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.”

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”