Renault Sport F1 Team said a couple weeks ago it wasn’t planning to rush a decision on its 2017 driver lineup, but has now more or less put down a deadline for when it will reveal its 2017 lineup.
The Enstone-based factory outlet holds two of the more coveted seats on next year’s grid, and along with Williams Martini Racing is yet to confirm either seat next year.
Renault F1 boss Frederic Vasseur told the official F1 website that while both Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have been progressively improving throughout the season, it’s too early to say either of them would be back in 2017.
“They are improving! We know we are on the grid, so ‘improving’ is written in capital letters for us,’ Vasseur told Formula1.com.
“It is too early to make any decision right here and now. We will probably do it at the beginning of September.”
Vasseur hinted the team needs a dynamic leader to rise with Renault as the team looks to recapture old race- and title-winning glory, achieved when Michael Schumacher was with the team then-known as Benetton in the mid-1990s and when Fernando Alonso won his pair of titles for Renault in its last iteration in 2005 and 2006.
“If you look at the success stories of the past, success was always built around a driver: Schumacher and Ferrari, Vettel and Red Bull, Lewis and Mercedes, and also Alonso and Renault in the past – so the driver is important,” Vasseur said.
Magnussen has supplied Renault’s only six points this year, courtesy of a seventh place finish at the Russian Grand Prix back in May, and Palmer is yet to score. His best chance went begging at the Hungarian Grand Prix when he was on course for a likely top-10 finish, before a spin put pause to that.
The team is known to want Sergio Perez, with the Mexican’s backers the ones likely to dictate his future. However, Force India said earlier this year it expected Perez back alongside Nico Hulkenberg next year.
Meanwhile Esteban Ocon, who’s done a couple free practice outings this year for Renault as its reserve driver before shifting into the second Manor-Mercedes race seat for the rest of this year, is also among those in the frame.