At the launch of the new Renault R.S.17 today in London, Renault Sport F1 Team senior management expressed a goal of leaping to the top-five in the Constructor’s Championship for the 2017 Formula 1 season.
Jerome Stoll, president of Renault Sport Racing and Cyril Abiteboul, the team’s managing director, said with the offseason reset and having had a proper amount of time to fully become Renault they can go from ninth up to fifth in this year’s standings.
“We have a car developed by us, and we expect to be fifth in the championship,” Stoll said during the team’s launch. “We have the team, we have the drivers, we have the partners. We are completely managed by Renault now.
Abiteboul added, “We’ve been investing more than any of the top teams. We lead everyone else in looking where the regulations are. Last year was about putting together the building blocks of the mid-term to the long-term in the back office. This year, I will be spending more time at the track.”
Abiteboul introduced the drivers who he hopes will do the task. He hailed Jolyon Palmer’s improvement in the latter stages of the season and said Nico Hulkenberg’s record speaks for itself.
“We’re happy to continue the journey with Jolyon,” Abiteboul said. “Like all rookies, he’s had difficult and challenging moments, but we stay together as a group and continue to perform.
“He’s been keeping his head down and got through the difficult part of the year. He had a remarkable last third of the year with great races in Malaysia and Japan.
“Nico, I’m not going to introduce him. You should know what he can do. He set a pole in his rookie season with Williams. He won Le Mans his first year with Porsche. He’s secured fourth in the standings with Force India last year. He will be an example for all of us.”
Team technical director Bob Bell said there “should be an overall significant improvement in car performance.” With the higher downforce though, he said whether there will be a lot of overtaking remains the biggest question mark going into the year.
“The truth is none of us will know until Melbourne. The jury’s still out, but we’re hopeful.”