Renault F1 2016 Review

Following the end of the 2016 Formula 1 Season, Craig Woollard looks at the Renault F1 Team and their performances with Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer in the car.

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Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Renault Sport Formula One Team Renault RE16 turbo on track during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix at Yas Marina Circuit on November 27, 2016 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Drivers: Kevin Magnussen – 16th, 7 points; Jolyon Palmer – 18th, 1 point

Best grid position: 12th – Magnussen, Belgium
Best race result: 10th – Magnussen, Russia

2016 World Constructors Championship Position (2015, 2014): 9th (6th, 8th)

The rumoured Renault buyout of the troubled Lotus team eventually came to fruition, but it happened very late in the day. This, paired with Pastor Maldonado’s void contract following the collapse of Venezuela’s economy, left Renault with a completely different driver line-up to 2015, with different power units to 2015 and different colours to 2015, but some familiar problems for the team.

Renault F1 2016 Review

Renault’s first proper F1 machine this decade would unfortunately be different to the Lotus which preceded it, but without the coveted Mercedes power unit in the middle. The Lotus had few strengths in 2015, but the Mercedes power unit was its strongest asset. In 2014, the last time Lotus ran Renault power units, the team endured a dreadful season.

A strong eleventh and twelfth place finish at Australia followed by an eleventh place and a did not start (DNS) at Bahrain were fairly positive results for Renault. China was a disaster for the team with Palmer finishing in last place and Magnussen finishing in seventeenth. In Russia however, Magnussen took advantage of the chaos in front of him to take an absolutely superb seventh place. However, from then on, Renault would rarely look like challenging for the points at all.

Both drivers would crash out at Monaco – Palmer on his own at the start whilst Magnussen got taken out by Daniil Kvyat. Magnussen would then have his turn to carelessly crash at Canada. Palmer would have one of his stronger runs at Hungary, but a late spin cost him any chance of sneaking into the points.

The second half of the season would be a little bit stronger for Renault, even if there was a massive shunt for Magnussen at Belgium, whilst Palmer would get wiped by his former GP2 rival Felipe Nasr at Italy. At Singapore however, Magnussen delivered a very strong drive to finish in the top ten, whilst Palmer would benefit from the misfortune of stronger cars to match that result at Malaysia.

The final races of the season did not produce much for Renault to shout about either, despite finishing just outside of the points on a few occasions. Just eight points is fewer than the ten scored in 2014.

There will be change at Renault for 2017, with Nico Hulkenberg finally getting the factory F1 drive he certainly deserves, being partnered by Jolyon Palmer, but it is clear that Renault has a very long way to go before it can reach the top of the podium once again regardless of driver line up. Is Hulkenberg the man to guide Renault to the top as Fernando Alonso did and Alain Prost nearly did before him?
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