Jolyon Palmer may be under fire, as his performances in his second season in Formula 1 have hardly been inspirational, but his Renault team chief Cyril Abiteboul is adamant that the Briton can still turn things around and remain with the team beyond 2017.
Abiteboul said in a recent interview, “If he manages to turn around the situation, which he did last year, we are completely open to a future between the team and Jo for one more season.”
Renault signed Nico Hulkenberg for this season and the German has raised the bar within the French team which Palmer has struggled to match. Furthermore several drivers have been linked with the team, including double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso and fast rehabilitating Robert Kubica.
But Abiteboul insists, “Stability would be good for the team. That’s also what we wanted last year – to have Nico changing we wanted not to have to change two drivers. Things could go [Palmer’s] way, but at the end of the day that’s in his hands.”
“He knows that right now he’s on a one-year contract and completely understands the team has to assess its options for the future.”
Although Palmer is around half a second down on Hulkenberg at just about every venue visited so far, it is also fair to say that the Englishman has also suffered the brunt of the team’s bad luck and lack of reliability.
Abiteboul added, “We’ve seen very good things with Jo, both during the winter tests, during the season, during a session. At the same time there’s been a mix of mistakes, missed opportunities – clearly not assisted by circumstance with reliability that has been clearly weaker on his side of the garage.”
“Very rapidly what this sort of mix has created is, I believe, a lack of confidence – a lack of confidence in himself, a lack of ability to put his head down in the difficulties that will encounter any driver in a race weekend or in a season.
“I’m really trying to protect Jo and to confirm to Jo almost on a daily basis my and the team’s commitment and full support in order to recreate the confidence in himself and in the team. It’s not the job of one day,” concluded the Renault team chief.
Big Question: Does Jolyon deserve another year in Formula 1 with Renault?