It’s hard to see Renault having as bad a year as 2016 again, in their second year of the present incarnation. Palmer was a new driver, Magnussen was just fighting to stay on the grid and Renault had only just taken back the keys to Enstone.
Ninth place seemed sewn up with no hope of getting 8th and they were far too strong to be caught by Manor or Sauber.
The best piece of news coming out of the yellow camp was the arrival of Nico Hulkenberg. The man who was widely regarded as a natural successor to the Ferrari seat and almost any World Championship winning car, has arrived and needs to create a legacy. He’s got the talent and we all know he has the social presence and interview technique to do it. We hope he has the car underneath him.
Being British does give us a warped view of Jolyon Palmer. We love a plucky underdog and one who tries hard. Even though his dad happens to have a great portfolio of race tracks, there appears to be little of the pushy parent or financing which can make unwanted viewing. His results last year didn’t light any fires and we’re pretty sure that he’s only still at Renault because K Mag left. BUT he’s British and we want him to do well.
So they’ve had a year of settling back into the old factory. A year almost written off from development, as the attention was shifted to this season. The car will hopefully be up to scratch and the engine was showing great promise in the back of the Red Bull at the end of last season.
There’s hope and we think they’ll overtake Haas, keep ahead of Sauber and then have a good battle with Toro Rosso for the lower middle of the mid-table. Can’t wait for the first pre-season testing to see the shake down of the new car.
Even Abiteboul is keeping the optimism in check.
“Now that there’s a reset of regulations, in my opinion it’s even better because we have no excuse not to be at the same level as the midfield at the start of the season,”
Aiming for midfield can be very dangerous. Our prediction is them settling in to 7th after a very tough battle with Toro Rosso