Sunday, March 18, 2018

Engine Blood Ranks The 2018 Contenders: 5. Currently Renault

HISTORY: Ah, the Enstone Team!  Right, strap in, there's a lot to cover here: starting out in 1981 as Toleman, they were eventually rebranded as Benetton, with the fashion chain getting a taste for racing through their prior sponsorship of Tyrrell and Alfa Romeo.

Having won two titles with Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995, a fallow decade followed, before Renault bought the team out and two more titles followed for Alonso.  Renault eventually sold the team to Genii Capital, who acquired the Lotus name for the princely sum of a bag of balloons and a pencil - but once the global financial whoopsie was a distant memory, Renault came knocking again, and here we are.

When you consider the changes this team has been through, and all the legendary drivers they've had through the door - Schumacher, Senna, Piquet, Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Berger, Patrese and Boutsen, to name but a few - your head spins.  They've made lemonade from lemons more times than is strictly plausible, and are always potentially a couple of years away from another title run.


From Press Association, accessed via BBC Sport.
Oh man, that's a cool colour scheme - especially after a couple of years of pure banana yellow, which to be completely fair, is actually Renault's traditional racing colour.

They have counselled, however, that this is a livery for testing, and the race version may be different.  We say they'd be chumps to change from this aggressive look, but time will tell.


55. Carlos SAINZ (ESP)

Nico is a nearly man for many top drives, being at various stages on Mercedes and Ferrari's radars, and has bounced around the midfield, arguably outperfoming the car everywhere he goes - Williams, Sauber and Force India.

A journeyman racer at the highest level, which you don't really get these days, one unfortunately has to think that barring a rash of unexpected retirements (Hamilton and Raikkonen being most likely), sticking with the Renault works team and hoping they come into the ascendency is about his best chance at some long-overdue glory.

Carlos Sainz is overrated, in these writers' humble opinions.  We've seen them come and we've seen them go, and this fellow has all the hallmarks of mediocrity - petulance, midfield results, habitually outperformed by (non-Kyvat) teammates, famous dad.  We may stand corrected eventually, and joining Renault mid-season was certainly a smart career move for him, coming out of a crowded Red Bull driver programme.  As for who he replaced...

LAST YEAR: 6th in Constructors' Championship, 57 points.

27. Nico HULKENBERG (GER) - 10th, 43 points, best finish: 6th.
55. Carlos SAINZ (ESP) - 9th, 54 points, best finish: 4th (best finish for Renault: 7th).
30. Jolyon PALMER (GB) - 17th, 5 points, best finish: 8th.

...Christ, Jolyon Palmer was rubbish, wasn't he?  Really not Formula One material - petulance, midfield results, habitually outperformed by teammates, famous dad... Hang on a minute...

That he could be replaced by a talent as common-or-garden as Sainz mid-season and immediately be eclipsed is testament to the failure of his career.  I'm guessing he won't be back or missed.  Other than that it was a season for occasional Hulkenberg heroics - story of the latter's career so far, really.

Eyebrows were raised when Renault-powered Toro Rosso suddenly went backwards and were pipped for sixth in the championship by the works team, but we're "sure" "nothing" "untoward" happened there.

PROSPECTS: Could look a bit stupid if outpaced by McLaren on the same engine - mind you, Red Bull are well ahead of them so perhaps not.  If reliability remains metronomic, they could easily be looking at sixth, and use that as a jumping-off point for future development.

Given their history, Renault will not want to be away from the sharp end for long, and the sport benefits from their participation - so let's hope they at least get what they want.

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