Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer will learn their fates in a few weeks as Renault are hoping to announce their 2017 driver line-up in early September.
Current incumbents Magnussen and Palmer are under pressure to retain their seats with Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas and Esteban Ocon all linked to Renault in recent weeks.
However, there is some good news as Renault team principal Fred Vasseur concedes the Enstone team’s struggles have not made it easy for their drivers.
“It’s not easy for them either,” he told Formula1.com. “They have been used to winning in the past – and now they are cut off from that.
“I see both of them improving. Keep in mind that Jo (Palmer) is a rookie and Kevin did only one season [of F1] before – and that was two years ago.
“Jo has been improving a lot – true he spun in Hungary, but so far he did a good job. And that also goes for Kevin. Both have a very optimistic approach. They are a good support for the team.”
And an optimistic approach is what Renault are looking for in their drivers.
Like managing director Cyril Abiteboul, Vasseur says Renault are open to building a champion, they just need to find the right driver to lead the team.
“If you look at the success stories of the past, success was always built around a driver: Schumacher and Ferrari, Vettel and Red Bull, Lewis and Mercedes, and also Alonso and Renault in the past – so the driver is important,” he added.
“A driver is not only about performance, but about being capable of leading a team. Right now we have more or less a thousand people in the team, if you take Viry and Enstone together, and that needs some sort of emotional leadership – and that is the job for a driver! We need a driver who is super-motivated and able to super-motivate everybody else.”
Asked whether he believes Magnussen or Palmer could do just that, he replied: “They are improving! We know we are on the grid, so ‘improving’ is written in capital letters for us. It is too early to make any decision right here and now. We will probably do it at the beginning of September.”