2017 Renault Analysis: A Long Way Come, A Long Way To Go

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A year that saw Renault make significant strides forward in the standings, 2017 was also a year which showed how far they have yet to go.

It’s rare that a team can find itself having made a three-place, 49-point improvement and still be left unsatisfied. Especially for a team like Renault, that was only in its second year back as constructors (and first with complete control over car development) you’d think the French outfit would see their 2017 as cause for celebration. Yet by their own admission, they could have, indeed should have achieved so much more.

For as solid a performer as the R.S.17 was – and new signing Nico Hulkenberg in it – too often the team the team was hamstrung by the dual shortcomings of the car’s reliability and driver Jolyon Palmer. Instead of having to pip the ailing Toro Rosso at the last race for sixth, they should’ve been making Williams sweat a further 26 points up the road for fifth – that simply wasn’t possible with Palmer (8 points to Hulkenberg’s 34) and the number of reliability-related DNFs they accrued.

Strengthening their lineup with the addition of Carlos Sainz in Austin, the team still managed to leave points on the table in three of the last four races. Given their lofty ambitions, that simply can’t continue to happen, and while even as just an engine supplier reliability has never been their forte, you have to expect 2018 is the year that will finally change.

Rating: 4/10

Driver Ratings

Nico Hulkenberg

If it’s possible for a driver to be highly-regarded and still underrated, no man fits that description better than Nico Hulkenberg. Year-in and year-out the German has delivered the goods, and 2017 was no exception, scoring 43 points despite his team’s clear deficiencies.

Even if his performances were flattered by the underachievement of Jolyon Palmer, his level of dominance (18-2 in qualifying) was remarkable, and facing off against a more formidable opponent in Carlos Sainz, he still more than held his own. Perhaps 2018 is the year he gets a car completely worth of his talents, but right now, he’ll have to settle for being one of the best drivers never to win a grand prix.

Rating: 9/10

Jolyon Palmer

Maybe he got a little unlucky with reliability. Maybe Nico Hulkenberg was just that good. Or, maybe he was just that bad. Whatever the case, Jolyon Palmer’s value to Renault in 2017 began and ended with his chequebook.

Rating: 1/10

Carlos Sainz

In a year that saw him switch from Toro Rosso to Renault prior to the US GP, the 23-year-old Sainz continues to build on his reputation as one of F1’s most highly-regarded prospects. Almost single-handedly carrying Toro Rosso’s season with 48 of their 53 points, Sainz was a regular fixture in the top-10 despite the team’s ups and downs, and immediately showed his worth replacing Jolyon Palmer with a P7 on debut for the French outfit.

That said, if there’s a knock against him, it’s that his one-lap pace isn’t quite as strong as you’d like, being closely matched by Daniil Kvyat and (albeit in a small sample size) beaten by Nico Hulkenberg. Still, there’s no mistaking he delivered when it mattered.

Rating: 8.5/10 

The Stats

  • 2017 WCC Position: 6th – 57 points
  • 2016 WCC Position: 9th – 8 points
  • Best Finish: 6th (five occasions)
  • Average Finish: 10.78
  • DNFs: 12 (+1 DNS)
  • Q3 Appearances: 17

Teammate Head-to-Head:

Jolyon Palmer

 

Nico Hulkenberg

1

Qualifying

15

2

Race

5

4 (+1 DNS)

DNFs

4

2

Q3 Appearances

9

 

Qualy Pace Difference

-0.838s

8

Points

34

Carlos Sainz

 

Nico Hulkenberg

1

Qualifying

3

0

Race

1

2

DNFs

2

3

Q3 Appearances

3

 

Qualy Pace Difference

-0.199s

6

Points

9