By Adam Tate, Associate Editor
2017 may prove to be just the reset Renault has needed. One of F1’s four power unit suppliers, Renault is a full works team for only their second season back after it stayed away from the sport from 2011 to 2015. Crucially they have an all new car, as last year’s design was very much a warmed over Lotus. The new machine, the R.S.17 is one of the more attractive and purposeful looking cars on the grid. Piloted by veteran recruit Nico Hulkenberg and second year driver Jolyon Palmer, Renault is very much a team building for the future, while simultaneously hoping to be more competitive in the present.
|No. 27||Nico Hulkenberg||(Germany)|
|No. 30||Jolyon Palmer||(Great Britain)|
|Renault CEO/Team Principal||Carlos Ghosn|
|Renault Sport President||Jerome Stroll|
|Managing Director||Cyril Abiteboul|
|Technical Director||Bob Bell|
|Sporting Director||Alan Permane|
Renault Sport R.S.17
Moving on up?
After several seasons of its power units lagging behind the standard set by Mercedes, and a rough reintroduction to the sport as a works team in 2016, Renault is hungry for success. Renault Sport President Jerome Stroll recently reiterated that the teams’ status as one of the four engine manufacturers makes it a preeminent outfit. Carlos Ghosn, the fearless CEO of the Renault-Nissan juggernaut, is prepared to give the team at Enstone all the resources it requires until they can compete at the top of the field.
The team lost Kevin Magnussen to Haas, but aren’t worried as they have replaced him with highly rated Nico Hulkenberg, who left Force India for the chance to join a works outfit in the hopes that he can finally break his podium duck. The German sits third all-time for races started without a podium and will pass current record holder Adrian Sutil by mid-season unless the R.S.17 proves far faster than expected. Hulkenberg is joined by second year driver Jolyon Palmer, who after a rough start to 2016, consistently outperformed Magnussen at the end of last year. They make a duo with enough experience and hunger for Renault to grow with.
The team suffered niggling problems throughout preseason testing in Barcelona that mainly centered on the MGU-K unit which limited the power delivery of the ERS. It limited not only their running, but that of customers Red Bull and Toro Rosso as well. The team still looked strong though as Hulkenberg set the sixth best time in Barcelona. They look set to feature in a very tight midfield battle with the likes of Williams, Force India, Haas, and Toro Rosso. The team has also brought a so called “big fix” to Australia in order to address their MGU-K issue. If it works, they and the other Renault runners, may well take another step forward in competitiveness.