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Nico Rosberg joins Robert Kubica’s management team

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2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has joined Robert Kubica’s management team in a bid to aid the Pole’s return to top-line racing in the near future.

Rosberg raced in F1 between 2006 and 2016, winning the world title last November in Abu Dhabi before announcing his shock retirement from racing just five days later.

Rosberg has since acted as a Mercedes ambassador, as well as spending time with his young family, exploring new interests in tech start-ups, and even considering a study course at Stanford University.

Since suffering severe injuries to his right arm that appeared to end his F1 career in 2011, Kubica has stepped up his comeback bid, leading to an appearance in a 2017-spec Renault at the collective test following the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Kubica was thought to be a candidate for a race seat at Renault in 2018, only for the team to retain some uncertainty over his fitness and readiness to return, eventually opting to sign Carlos Sainz Jr. on loan from Toro Rosso.

Kubica is reported to be exploring alternative options both inside and outside of F1, and now has Rosberg on his team to help define his future racing plans.

Following the emergence of reports about his involvement in the German press, Rosberg confirmed he was working with Kubica on Twitter, sharing a picture of them together alongside Lewis Hamilton from their time in karting.

Palmer adamant he will finish F1 season with Renault amid Sainz rumors

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Jolyon Palmer is adamant he will see out the 2017 Formula 1 season as a Renault driver despite speculation he could be replaced by Carlos Sainz Jr. for the next race in Malaysia.

Palmer has struggled to make an impact with Renault since making his F1 debut at the start of 2016, scoring just a single point through 32 grand prix starts.

Renault is widely expected to announce the signing of Sainz in the coming days as part of the wider deal that will see it shift a customer engine supply from Toro Rosso to McLaren for 2018.

Reports leading up to this weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix claimed that Sainz could even make the switch to Renault for the race at Sepang, taking place on October 1, with Palmer being dropped.

When asked about the speculation in Thursday’s FIA press conference at Marina Bay, Palmer insisted he would stay in the car until the end of the season as he remained under contract.

“I have a contract. I’ve got seven more races this year,” Palmer said.

“There have been suggestions for the past 35 races that I might not be at the next one, or in the next few, so this is nothing new for me. It’s water off a duck’s back now.

“I’ll be in Malaysia. I’ll be racing until Abu Dhabi. I’ve already said the same.”

With F1 seats for 2018 being snapped up fast, Palmer appears to have few options to stay in the sport if Renault does drop him, but the Briton is relaxed about his future.

“I don’t care too much to talk about it,” Palmer said. “I know what’s happening. I think there will be an announcement at some point in the future, not too long.

“For me, I’m excited about the future. I haven’t thought too much, but I’m excited for what’s to come.”

Renault not giving up in chase of Williams in F1 teams’ standings

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Renault is refusing to give up in its bid for a top-five finish in this year’s Formula 1 constructors’ championship despite trailing Williams by over 20 points heading into the final flyaway rounds of the season.

Renault returned to F1 in 2016 as a constructor after six years away, and has made progress through its second season back, scoring over four times as many points as in the entirety of the previous campaign.

Renault set a top-five finish in the teams’ standings as its pre-season target, but sits eighth with seven races remaining on 34 points, 21 back from Williams in P5.

Nevertheless, team chief Cyril Abiteboul says the Enstone crew remains determined to give its all through the closing stages of the season, not relenting in its bid to catch Williams.

“We are now focusing on these busy Asia rounds. Williams sit just 21 points ahead of us in fifth place
in the constructors’ championship and, with seven races to go, it’s very much in our capability to chase
that down by the end of the season,” Abiteboul said.

“We need to create some momentum and string together some consistent results with both cars inside the top ten. Singapore will be vital to kick start this effort.”

Abiteboul confirmed in Renault’s pre-race preview that two personnel changes had come into play in time for Singapore, intended to boost its bid to catch Williams.

“Track side, from the Singapore Grand Prix, Matthieu Dubois takes on the role of head of race strategy of Renault Sport Formula 1 Team. He will functionally report to our Sporting Director Alan Permane,” Abiteboul said.

“Matthieu joined Renault Sport in 1998 where he has held various positions including the one of Race Strategist at Enstone from 2008 to 2012. Up until now, Matthieu has been in charge of the customer track teams (Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso).

“Simultaneously, Ricardo Penteado, head of the engine track service, will take the direct responsibility for all three teams. In his day to day activities, he will be supported by the lead engineer from each team. He will also be in charge of liaising with our customers at the track.”

Renault still chasing top-five F1 constructors’ championship finish

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Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul remains confident that the team can secure a top-five finish in this years’ constructors’ championship despite sitting eighth with half of the season complete.

Renault returned to F1 with a works team in 2016, but struggled to make much of an impression on-track as it recovered from the financial difficulties that blighted the Lotus team it took over.

While progress has been clear through 2017, the team already more than tripling its points total, it has still struggled to make much of an impact on F1’s midfield.

Nico Hulkenberg has led Renault’s charge, scoring all 26 of it points so far this season, taking an impressive sixth-place finish at Silverstone last weekend.

Renault boldly stated in pre-season that it was targeting a top-five finish in the constructors’ championship, and while it may still be three places shy heading towards the summer break, Abiteboul’s goal remains unchanged.

“We have shown at Silverstone that we are continuing to improve. Chassis developments, in particular the new floor, proved to be positive exemplified from Nico’s eight points and both cars showing strong qualifying pace,” Abiteboul said.

“It’s critical to back up this improvement with both cars finishing in the top ten in Hungary – we want to finish the first half of the season on a positive note.

“To achieve this, we need to put behind our reliability problems. We know our situation and the areas which require more attention.

“Our targets remain unchanged: we want to be sixth by the end of play on 30th July and fifth by the end of the season. A double-points finish is well within our reach.”

Renault currently sits seven points behind sixth-placed Toro Rosso in the constructors’ championship, and 15 shy of Williams in P5.

Palmer: Speculation about F1 future ‘nothing new’

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Jolyon Palmer says he is taking no notice of speculation about his Formula 1 future with Renault, instead preferring to focus on improving his displays and ending his point-less start to the year.

2014 GP2 champion Palmer stepped up to F1 with Renault last year, but scored just a single point throughout his rookie campaign courtesy of a P10 finish in Malaysia.

Palmer was retained for 2017 alongside Nico Hulkenberg, who has already racked up 14 points for Renault, with the Briton yet to contribute to this haul.

Speculation has been bubbling in recent weeks that Renault could replace Palmer mid-season, with development driver Sergey Sirotkin and recent F1 racer Felipe Nasr linked to the seat.

When asked if he felt under more pressure due to the speculation, Palmer said the only problems could be self-induced as he takes no notice of the rumors.

“What puts pressure on is not putting in good performances,” Palmer said.

“I’m aware that the start of the year has been pretty disappointing. I’m working hard and I’m ready to turn it around.

“In terms of the rumors, there’s been rumors since my third ever race in Formula 1, so there’s nothing new for me.

“Of course the way to stop it is to do well on-track and hopefully I can do that this weekend.”

Palmer picked up his best result of the F1 season so far in Monaco last time out, finishing 11th, which offered him a lift after a rough start to the year.

“It is a confidence boost. Obviously it’s been a very tough start to the year, but there’s been some positives recently, even if it doesn’t necessarily show on the results sheet,” Palmer said.

“But Monaco at least yeah, a race distance and we were pretty competitive in terms of times as well. But obviously when you start 16th, it’s difficult to make any overtakes or do much else, running around in the traffic.

“But at least with a better pace and we could take a bit of confidence in here.”