Renault seeking ‘charismatic’ leader for 2017

Date published: August 8 2016

Although Cyril Abiteboul is not ruling out retaining Kevin Magnussen or Jolyon Palmer for next season, he says Renault are wanting a “charismatic” leader for the team.

Renault is one of several teams yet to confirm their line-up for next season.

Although both Magnussen and Palmer are hoping to stay on for a second campaign, Renault have been linked to Sergio Perez in recent weeks.

Test driver Esteban Ocon is also believed to be in the running.

But whatever route Renault take, managing director Abiteboul is hoping that they will have a “charismatic” leader at the helm.

He told Autosport: “From Renault’s perspective, what we are looking to see is people buying into the long-term project.

“We want them to be able to act as a leader and ambassador for the brand – and leader for the team.

“It’s not easy when you’re young, so there’s more to come from them [Magnussen and Palmer] with their involvement, in their capacity to take the role of leaders. We need that.

“When I look at all the big teams they all lend themselves to the leadership of charismatic drivers from [Sebastian] Vettel, Michael Schumacher, [Nico] Rosberg, and so on, and we will need that.

“I’m not saying they don’t have the capacity to act like that, but we will need it at some point in time.”

He added: “It would be unfair to make a decision too quickly without enough insights, data, evidence.

“We know Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, and so on, are under contract, so there won’t be any movement this winter.

“So it’s better we do not rush any decision and take more time to form an opinion about who we have in priority, and that is the best way forward.”

But while a driver change looks possible, Abiteboul concedes that Renault have let Magnussen and Palmer down.

To date Magnussen’s best result of the campaign was his P7 in Russia, Renault’s only top-ten showing, while Palmer’s best was his 11th place in Australia.

Abiteboul added: “A number of races have been altered by operational aspects from the reliability of the car.

“The power unit is reliable, but the car has been less reliable, unfortunately.

“That’s an effect of how late we were in putting together the whole package last winter, while the structure is also taking shape.

“In terms of driving, I see Jolyon is really picking up the pace. It’s very impressive.

“Kevin has the capacity to do better, and when I say that it’s not to get at him, it just means we continue to believe in him.”