2017 review: Renault makes gradual progress

2017 review: Renault makes gradual progress

15 December 2017 – GPUpdate.net continues its end-of-season review with Renault, which returned to the midfield, as Nico Hülkenberg led the charge, though ultimately missed its 2017 target, amid reliability setbacks.

Renault: 6.5/10
Championship: 6th
WCC points: 57
Best race: 6th (4 x HUL, 1 x PAL)
Best qualifying: 6th (1 x HUL)
Fastest laps: 0
Qualifying duel: HUL 16 - 0 PAL, HUL 3 - 1 SAI


Renault's management targeted a return to the top five in 2017, but while it had the pace, it desperately lacked reliability, and was hamstrung for much of the campaign by Jolyon Palmer's ineffectiveness. It eventually finished sixth, via a furious divorce with Toro Rosso, and finished just a smattering of points clear of eighth-placed Haas. Renault undoubtedly made year-on-year gains, and developed well through the year, having lacked race pace with its R.S.17 early on, compared to its one-lap potential. Hülkenberg was able to lead the midfield charge in Britain, Belgium and Abu Dhabi, but for a team of its aspirations, it was shaded all too often by Force India. Poor reliability cost Hülkenberg points in Monaco, Japan and Mexico, and a potential podium in Singapore. Palmer, meanwhile, was beset by issues, often leaving him on the backfoot, as he got sucked into a negative spiral. With better reliability, and a more competent second driver, Renault would easily have met its target. But even if its on-track goal was missed, the expansion of its Enstone factory – leading to substantial recruitment – the Hülkenberg/Sainz Jr. dynamic, and the in-year progress means the future looks bright.

Nico Hülkenberg: 8/10
Championship: 10th
WDC points: 43
Best R result: 6th (4x)
Best Q result: 6th (1x)


Hülkenberg swiftly assimilated with Renault, thinking of the bigger picture after moving from Force India, and was a more competitive force, the more durable tyres more conducive to his driving style. Able to push, and with the backing of a larger manufacturer, there were glimpses of the Hülkenberg who promised so much during his junior career, with standout performances when the car permitted, none more so than in Britain. He made Q3 more often than not, and extracted the maximum where he could, with only a clumsy wall-clipping error in Azerbaijan a driver-inflicted points loss. Hülkenberg comfortably had the measure of Palmer throughout the year, beating the Briton in each qualifying session, but now has a new challenge in the form of Carlos Sainz Jr. Nonetheless, Hülkenberg astutely demonstrated his leadership qualities in 2017 as he led Renault down the correct development path – can he finally take a podium in 2018?

High point: Fantastic throughout the weekend at Silverstone
Low point: Mechanical issue robbing him of certain fourth in Singapore


Jolyon Palmer: 4/10
Championship: 17th
WDC points: 8
Best R result: 6th (1x)
Best Q result: 10th (2x)


Palmer was afforded a stay of execution by Renault but spent most of the year swatting aside questions over his future, amid a sequence of lacklustre performances. Dreadful one-lap pace left him facing race recoveries, which were stymied by overtaking being harder (especially for Renault drivers), reliability woes, and his own shortcomings. His dire pace in the laps after moving aside for Hülkenberg in Hungary were eye-opening, as Renault actively chased a replacement for 2018 – which ultimately came sooner, when Palmer made way for Carlos Sainz Jr. for the last four rounds. In Palmer's defence, two of his weekends were ruined by reliability setbacks – Azerbaijan, Britain – while his prospects in Belgium were blunted by a qualifying issue. Sixth in Singapore was also a fine result, an outlier amid a season of malaise. But there were far too many crashes, his one-lap pace to Hülkenberg was a chasm, and there was little to suggest he could turn his situation around.

High point: Ending points drought in Singapore
Low point: Dismal reliability wrecked Azerbaijan weekend


Carlos Sainz Jr.: 7.5/10
Championship: 9th
WDC points: 54 (of which 6 were for Renault)
Best R result: 7th (1x)
Best Q result: 8th (1x)


Sainz Jr. only entered four events with Renault but displayed more promise during that brief stint than his predecessor had managed through the entire campaign. Sainz Jr. made Q3 in three out of his four rounds with Renault, quickly adapting to the R.S.17 and his new surroundings, despite the manufacturer grappling with its performance/reliability balance during the closing rounds. Points on his Renault debut were a well-deserved reward for his startling pass on Sergio Pérez through Turn 18/19, and he challenged for the top 10 across the final three rounds, missing out in the Abu Dhabi finale when his left-front wheel was not firmly attached. The quartet of events the Sainz Jr./Renault partnership enjoyed in 2017 will stand it in good stead for 2018, meaning it can hit the ground running from the off – the dynamic will be fascinating to follow.

High point: Perfectly executed pass on Pérez in the United States
Low point: First-lap Mexico spin after Q3 display


Statistics
Average qualifying gap: 0.739s to Hülkenberg vs Palmer (three rounds excluded), 0.339s to Hülkenberg vs Sainz Jr. (one round excluded)
Biggest qualifying gap: 3.269s to Hülkenberg in Australia*
Smallest qualifying gap: 0.102s to Hülkenberg (versus Sainz Jr.) in Brazil
Average qualifying result: Sainz Jr. 9.5**, Hülkenberg 9.55, Palmer 14.69
*Palmer complained about R.S.17 after FP2 crash, next largest gap was 1.404s to Hülkenberg in Italy
**During four-event spell with Renault


Retirements:
Hülkenberg: 6
Palmer: 4*
Sainz Jr.: 6
*Palmer also failed to start in Britain


Race head-to-head: Hülkenberg 5 – 3 Palmer, Hülkenberg 1 – 0 Sainz Jr.

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Wednesday 17 January 2018

  2. Video: Jenson Button vlog: From LA to Tokyo 13:48

    Video: Jenson Button vlog: From LA to Tokyo

    Catch up with Jenson Button in his latest vlog entry as he jets from Los Angeles to Tokyo for the launch of Honda's Super GT…

    Misc
  3. Kari stays in GP3, switches to MP Motorsport 10:06

    Kari stays in GP3, switches to MP Motorsport

    Niko Kari will continue in the GP3 Series this year, having switched from Arden to category newcomers MP Motorsport. Formula…

    GP3
  4. Tuesday 16 January 2018

  5. Fenestraz joins Carlin for Formula 3 campaign 13:54

    Fenestraz joins Carlin for Formula 3 campaign

    Formula Renault champion Sacha Fenestraz will contest this year's European Formula 3 Championship with Carlin. Fenestraz…

    F3
  6. Kubica gets development role with Williams 11:32

    Kubica gets development role with Williams

    Robert Kubica has landed a role as Williams' reserve and development driver for 2018, which will involve test and practice runs…

    F1
  7. Williams confirms Sirotkin for 2018 seat 11:18

    Williams confirms Sirotkin for 2018 seat

    Williams has announced that Sergey Sirotkin will partner Lance Stroll for the 2018 campaign, with Robert Kubica, on the comeback…

    F1
  8. Video: Rosberg's Twitter Q&A with fans 08:42

    Video: Rosberg's Twitter Q&A with fans

    2016 Formula 1 World Champion Nico Rosberg responds to a variety of questions posed by fans on Twitter.

    F1
  9. Monday 15 January 2018

  10. Aitken secures Formula 2 step with ART GP 18:30

    Aitken secures Formula 2 step with ART GP

    Renault junior driver Jack Aitken will graduate to Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix this season, the French team has…

    F2
  11. Chaves unconcerned by one-car Harding entry 16:58

    Chaves unconcerned by one-car Harding entry

    Gabby Chaves has played down suggestions that Harding's one-car effort could prove to be disadvantageous, pointing to the…

    Indy
  12. Bird feared Marrakesh retirement amid issues 15:10

    Bird feared Marrakesh retirement amid issues

    DS Virgin Racing's Sam Bird feared mechanical gremlins would force him out of the Marrakesh ePrix, as he collected a podium…

    FE
  13. Ducati launches its 2018 programme, livery 11:52

    Ducati launches its 2018 programme, livery

    Ducati has become the first team to launch its 2018 MotoGP programme, taking the wraps off its Desmosedici GP at its Bologna…

    MotoGP
  14. Ticktum heads 2018 Red Bull junior line-up 10:16

    Ticktum heads 2018 Red Bull junior line-up

    Red Bull has announced its junior programme line-up for 2018, with Macau Grand Prix victor Dan Ticktum leading the six-driver…

    F1
  15. Racing legend and pioneer Gurney passes away 09:08

    Racing legend and pioneer Gurney passes away

    American racing legend Dan Gurney has passed away aged 86, his family has announced, due to complications arising from…

    F1
  16. Video: Formula E drivers react to Marrakesh 09:02

    Video: Formula E drivers react to Marrakesh

    Formula E drivers offer their three-word reaction to the Marrakesh ePrix, after varying fortunes up and down the grid at the…

    FE
  17. Sunday 14 January 2018

  18. Audi's Müller tops Formula E's rookie test 18:20

    Audi's Müller tops Formula E's rookie test

    Audi's Nico Müller clocked record pace as he comfortably topped Formula E's one-day rookie test in Morocco. Formula E…

    FE
  19. Buemi: Fanboost issue contributed to defeat 15:56

    Buemi: Fanboost issue contributed to defeat

    Sébastien Buemi pinpointed an issue with Fanboost as a contributing factor to his defeat at the Marrakesh ePrix. Buemi…

    FE
  20. Rosenqvist hails Mahindra, plays down title lead 13:08

    Rosenqvist hails Mahindra, plays down title lead

    Mahindra's Felix Rosenqvist praised his squad for a pre-race battery change at the Marrakesh ePrix, which he went on to win, and…

    FE
  21. Pirelli: F1 unlikely to return to tyre competition 11:24

    Pirelli: F1 unlikely to return to tyre competition

    Pirelli Racing Manager Mario Isola says he doubts that Formula 1 will ever return to competition between two tyre manufacturers…

    F1
  22. Video: Marrakesh E-Prix race highlights 07:47

    Video: Marrakesh E-Prix race highlights

    Watch race highlights from the Marrakesh E-Prix, the third round of the 2017/18 Formula E championship.

    FE
  23. Saturday 13 January 2018

  24. Rosenqvist overhauls Buemi for Marrakesh win 17:03

    Rosenqvist overhauls Buemi for Marrakesh win

    Mahindra's Felix Rosenqvist made it back-to-back victories as he overhauled long-time race leader Sébastien Buemi to triumph at…

    FE
  25. Harding confirms Chaves for full 2018 season 14:06

    Harding confirms Chaves for full 2018 season

    Gabby Chaves will return to the IndyCar grid full-time in 2018 after completing a deal to drive for Harding Racing. Harding…

    Indy
  26. Video: Marrakesh E-Prix qualifying highlights 13:38

    Video: Marrakesh E-Prix qualifying highlights

    Watch highlights from qualifying for the third round of the 2017/18 Formula E championship in Marrakesh

    FE
  27. Fukuzumi gets Arden F2 and Mugen SF seats 11:58

    Fukuzumi gets Arden F2 and Mugen SF seats

    Nirei Fukuzumi will embark on a dual campaign in Formula 2 with Arden International and in Super Formula with Team Mugen in…

    F2
  28. Video: Formula E drivers preview Marrakesh 10:18

    Video: Formula E drivers preview Marrakesh

    Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Buemi, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Felix Rosenqvist preview the third round of the Formula E championship…

    FE
  29. Puig appointed Repsol Honda Team Manager 09:42

    Puig appointed Repsol Honda Team Manager

    Repsol Honda has appointed Alberto Puig as its new Team Manager, following the resignation of Livio Suppo. Suppo announced…

    MotoGP
  30. Video: Marrakesh ePrix virtual lap with Lynn 08:44

    Video: Marrakesh ePrix virtual lap with Lynn

    Ride onboard with DS Virgin Racing's Alex Lynn for a virtual lap of the Marrakesh Street Circuit, ahead of Saturday's third…

    FE
  31. Friday 12 January 2018

  32. Brown expects 'substantial' gains with Renault 11:02

    Brown expects 'substantial' gains with Renault

    McLaren chief Zak Brown says the operation can expect a "substantial difference" in performance this season amid its alliance…

    F1
  33. Airbags compulsory in MotoGP from 2018 10:32

    Airbags compulsory in MotoGP from 2018

    Riders' race suits, across all classes within the MotoGP World Championship, must be fitted with airbag systems from the 2018…

    MotoGP
  34. Zhou stays with Prema for third F3 season 09:00

    Zhou stays with Prema for third F3 season

    Ferrari-backed Guanyu Zhou will continue with Prema in the European Formula 3 championship in 2018, marking his third season in…

    F3
  35. Video: What inspires Bottas' helmet designs? 07:12

    Video: What inspires Bottas' helmet designs?

    Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas talks about what he looks for in a helmet design after asking fans to design his lid for the…

    F1
  36. Thursday 11 January 2018

  37. Pirelli reveals compounds for Azerbaijan GP 16:09

    Pirelli reveals compounds for Azerbaijan GP

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has revealed its compound selections for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Pirelli will expand its…

    F1
  38. Video: FE drivers look ahead to Marrakesh 13:58

    Video: FE drivers look ahead to Marrakesh

    Following the festive break, Formula E drivers look ahead to this weekend's third round of the Formula E championship around the…

    FE
  39. 11:44

    Overview: Confirmed 2018 F1 driver line-ups

    F1
  40. Video: McLaren previews Grand Prix Driver 11:15

    Video: McLaren previews Grand Prix Driver

    McLaren teamed up with Amazon Prime to produce a documentary charting its 2017 campaign; watch the official trailer for the…

    F1
  41. Gasly hopes STR can maximise testing time 09:46

    Gasly hopes STR can maximise testing time

    Pierre Gasly believes Toro Rosso-Honda must ensure it establishes a reliable base early on, in order to maximise track time…

    F1
  42. Video: Bottas' helmet design inspiration 09:14

    Video: Bottas' helmet design inspiration

    With applications for Valtteri Bottas' helmet competition still open, the three-time Grand Prix winner explains the idea behind…

    F1
  43. Wednesday 10 January 2018

  44. Kvyat to become Ferrari development driver 13:16

    Kvyat to become Ferrari development driver

    Daniil Kvyat has agreed a deal to become Ferrari's development driver ahead of the 2018 season, the team has announced…

    F1
  45. Video: Billy Monger back behind the wheel 12:49

    Video: Billy Monger back behind the wheel

    Billy Monger, who lost both his lower legs following a Formula 4 crash in April 2017, is back behind the wheel as he prepares to…

    Misc
  46. Video: Best FE team radio from Hong Kong 10:02

    Video: Best FE team radio from Hong Kong

    Formula E presents the most dramatic team radio clips from Hong Kong, where the fourth season of the all-electric championship…

    FE
  47. FE expects to be only series left by 2040 09:26

    FE expects to be only series left by 2040

    Formula E chief Alejandro Agag reckons the series could be the only viable championship left by 2040, overtaking Formula 1 in…

    FE
  48. Video: Häkkinen tackles Laguna Seca in M23 09:02

    Video: Häkkinen tackles Laguna Seca in M23

    Double Formula 1 World Champion Mika Häkkinen tackles the Laguna Seca circuit in McLaren's M23; join the Finn and ride onboard…

    F1
more news