Rowland 'second favourite' for Renault seat
4 August 2017 – Renault development driver Oliver Rowland reckons he is "second favourite" for a 2018 seat at the team, putting himself behind Robert Kubica on the list.
Rowland, 24, holds second in this year's Formula 2 standings, 50 points behind Ferrari-backed Charles Leclerc, having taken two wins and six further podiums.
He will also carry out demo runs in the 2012-spec E20 with Renault this weekend, the French manufacturer putting on a show at the Gamma Racing Day in Assen.
Earlier this week, Rowland watched with interest as Kubica made his official F1 test return, and F2 team-mate Nicholas Latifi, also backed by Renault, got laps in the R.S.17 at the Hungaroring.
"Obviously I'm trying to get the seat for next year, and I've seen that Kubica has been testing, so I'm keeping my eye on that," Rowland told the Channel 4 F1 website.
"My F2 team-mate, Nicholas, was testing the day before so I got a bit of information back from him. We get on and share a lot of information within F2. I spoke to him and he said he had a good day.
"It's good for me as well as he's a decent reference for [Renault] to compare me to him and compare him to Robert.
"But you never really know with these tests, teams run a lot of fuel and you never really know what setting they are on with the engines, so from the outside it's difficult to gauge exactly what's going on."
Rowland went on to discuss the dynamic at Renault, with fellow junior drivers Latifi and Sergey Sirotkin also pushing to step up, and Kubica evaluating a full-time return.
"Obviously Robert was an incredible driver back in his day," said Rowland.
"He's been injured, he's come back, he's got some restrictions with his arm, [so] we just have to see how that affects him and what performance he brings with that.
"Robert comes with a lot of support and everybody would like to see him back in Formula 1, which is why it's a little bit difficult for me pushing that seat as well when he's in the frame.
"As for the other two, Nicholas is my team-mate in F2, so there is a direct comparison. If he was to beat me then he should get a seat in F1 and if it's the other way round you'd like to think that I would.
"Sirotkin did GP2 last year and finished third, but I'd like to think that I'm doing a slightly better job. We were also team-mates in 2014 in World Series by Renault and I beat him then.
"I see myself as not coming with the most backing in the world but second favourite behind Robert from that side of things. I respect him and it would be nice to see him there if I wasn't fighting for the seat!"
As it stands, Renault fields Nico Hülkenberg and Jolyon Palmer in Formula 1, but rumours continue to swirl over the latter's future, given his struggle to reach Q3 and score points.
It had been reported that Palmer could be replaced as early as the Belgian Grand Prix, but Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul denied this prior to the summer break.