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.”

F1: Valtteri Bottas urges Lewis Hamilton to clear up Mercedes future and sign

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MONACO (AP) — Valtteri Bottas is urging Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to sign a new contract, even though his own future is uncertain.

Bottas needs to convince Mercedes to give him a new deal for next year. Hamilton, meanwhile, is stalling on signing a new one even though an offer is in place. Hamilton was again asked about his contract situation on Wednesday, and maintains he’s in no hurry.

“There isn’t any sticking point. There just hasn’t been any rush,” Hamilton said. “There’s no discussion with anybody else, there’s no consideration for anybody else, it’s just (me) taking my time.”

But Bottas would like Hamilton’s future cleared up.

“For sure I would. First of all, I would like to stay here. That is my goal for the long term. It would be nice if Lewis wants to stay and finds an agreement,” Bottas said at the Mercedes motorhome. “I enjoy working with him, I enjoy the challenge he gives me. I enjoy the fact he’s four-time world champion and at the moment I’m none. It makes me try harder to be better.

“It wouldn’t change my mind that I want to stay here, but I think we work well together,” he added.

Last season was their first together. Bottas was drafted in from Williams as an emergency replacement after Nico Rosberg retired. He won three races but he stood out more as the ideal support driver as Hamilton reclaimed the F1 title.

Bottas understands Mercedes expects improvement.

“We had a chat before the season and naturally we expect performance gains compared to last year, being closer to Lewis,” Bottas said. “That’s what you need to do in the second season.”

However, Bottas says he has not been set a specific target in terms of points or where he finishes overall.

“There’s no magic number,” he said. “There’s no clause or anything, so it’s how the team feels I’m performing.”

Bottas finished third overall last year behind Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Hamilton.

He is in the same overall position – 20 points behind Vettel and 37 adrift of Hamilton – heading into this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The Finnish driver would be closer if not for a dramatic finish at the Azerbaijan GP last month. With victory seemingly guaranteed, he sustained a tire puncture and ended up with no points. He bounced back with a fine drive for second place in Spain two weeks ago.

“I feel like I’ve met my performance targets. Pace-wise I’m on the level I need, but result-wise I’m not happy,” Bottas said. “It’s been strange. But I know if I keep improving very good things will come.”

He has faced a considerable amount of criticism with observers questioning whether he can compete at the top level. Yet driving under the constant pressure of having a point to prove has also made him more resilient.

“For sure it makes you tougher and better,” he said. “From each difficult weekend, I feel I’ve been able to turn it (around).”