Renault Sport

Oliver Rowland becomes Renault F1 development driver

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Renault has announced that Formula 2 racer Oliver Rowland will take up the role of development driver for its Formula 1 operation in 2017, graduating from its junior program.

Rowland, 24, won the World Series by Renault title in 2015 and scored four podium finishes through his first full GP2 campaign last year.

The Briton joined Renault’s young driver program last year, but will now become its designated development driver for 2017.

Alongside his F2 duties, Renault confirmed Rowland will “fulfil a simulator programme for the team as well as driving on track”, suggesting he could be in line to appear at at least one of the in-season tests.

“My aim has always been to get a role in Formula 1 so it’s great to see all my hard work pay off,” Rowland said.

“The Renault Sport Academy was the perfect training ground and the role of Development Driver is another great step after being within the Renault family for so many years with Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5 and then the Academy too.

“I learnt a lot last year including working at Enstone in the simulator, so I feel well prepared for this role. I’m proud to be part of the team and I’ll be working hard to do everything I can to assist the team in their development of the R.S.17.”

Renault Sport Racing managing director Cyril Abiteboul added: “We know Oliver very well and we are very pleased to reward his work with this position with Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.

“Development Driver is an important position in a team and it is very interesting to have someone who already knows us well.”

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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