Renault F1 team principal Frederic Vasseur has offered tentative support to current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer as the manufacturer begins deliberations over its line-up for the 2017 F1 season.
Returning to F1 as a fully-fledged manufacturer following the purchase of the Lotus team, Renault has endured a tough season thus far having cracked the top ten on just one occasion with a seventh place in Russia.
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Nevertheless, with the disappointing results largely being justified by Renault's predominant focus on restructuring its technical team behind the scenes, it is tipped to take a step forward in 2017 when the revised regulations come into effect.
With this in mind, Renault is considered one of more attractive options on the grid for prospective drivers with Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon all being linked with the two available drives.
However, Vasseur says current drivers Magnussen and Palmer – who is yet to score in his rookie campaign – should not be discounted from the running either given their rate of improvement over the year.
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“It's not easy for them either,” Vasseur told Formula1.com
. “They have been used to winning in the past - and now they are cut off from that. I see both of them improving. Keep in mind that Jo (Palmer) is rookie and Kevin did only one season [of F1] before - and that was two years ago.
“Jo has been improving a lot - true he spun in Hungary, but so far he did a good job. And that also goes for Kevin. Both have a very optimistic approach. They are a good support for the team.”
With a decision set to be made in the coming weeks, Vasseur says any driver it chooses must be able to lead the team through these difficult early stages of its five-year plan
“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.
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“A driver is not only about performance, but about being capable of leading a team. Right now we have more or less a thousand people in the team, if you take Viry and Enstone together, and that needs some sort of emotional leadership - and that is the job for a driver! We need a driver who is super-motivated and able to super-motivate everybody else.”
“They [Kevin & Jolyon] are improving! We know we are on the grid, so 'improving' is written in capital letters for us. It is too early to make any decision right here and now. We will probably do it at the beginning of September."