Renault is planning to completely change their driver line-up for 2017, reports say.
The French team currently has Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen under contract this season, and neither driver is performing and getting results as the team ideally desired.
Magnussen’s crash in Belgium destroyed the front end of his car, and after Renault went into the weekend with hopes of a good race, that was soon destroyed. His car also went up in flames yesterday at Sepang.
However, the Dane did manage to get into Q2 this weekend, and will start the race from 14th on the grid.
Palmer has also faced problems. More often than not he has been out-qualified by his teammate, and has not scored a single point this season. He will start tomorrow’s race down from 19th on the grid, among Sauber and Manor.
So far, we have not heard much about who will be driving for the team in 2017.
“I can not understand why the driver decision is delayed again and again,” Magnussen reported.
It seems like Renault, however, are looking for a more experienced driver to secure points for them. There was speculation linking Force India’s Sergio Perez with a possible move, however his sponsors showed little interest, and he has been confirmed as remaining with Force India next year earlier today.
This means that now Perez is essentially out of the picture, his teammate Nico Hulkenberg and Williams’ Valtteri Bottas are reportedly top of Renault’s 2017 wish list, with interest also being shown in Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz.
Bottas currently has no contract to Williams for 2017, however the Finn has talked of having ‘unfinished’ business with the team, so it is unsure what he will do exactly, with things seemingly likely that he will remain.
Hulkenberg is, however, under contract to Force India for 2017, as is Sainz under contract to Toro Rosso, the Spaniard’s contract being extended by one year over the summer, and Helmut Marko has dismissed the move.
“The market is at times not blessed with young drivers,” he spoke.
“We therefore need Carlos at Toro Rosso and as reserve driver for Red Bull.”
Despite this, Renault have reported that they are expecting a $30 million sponsorship deal, which may draw some drivers towards them.
Although it seems like Renault will be unable to secure the drivers they want, and there is a lot of speculation flying around the paddock currently, one thing is for certain- Renault has not confirmed either driver, and as the season moves on, more and more drivers are securing seats for themselves, with the French team almost being left behind.
Palmer has already had to deal with a lot of speculation regarding his seat- even including the possibility that he could loose it mid-season to Esteban Ocon, however this was simply a rumour and was put to rest.
Magnussen has stated that he is not looking beyond Renault for 2017, but it is difficult to see where else he would go if he was dropped, since most teams have their driver line-up sorted.
More to follow.