The Renault Sport F1 Team have struggled for the most part so far in 2016, but that was always to be expected in their first year back as a full works team, since 2009.
With only the Manor Racing Team and Sauber F1 squad behind them in the Constructor’s Championship, they have plenty to do in order to catch even the midfield contenders. Despite bringing an engine upgrade to the Monaco Grand Prix, which has boosted the performance of the Red Bull Racing team, who are powered by Renault and challenging at the front end of the grid, the French squad have yet to really experience the benefits, as their drivers struggle to strike a perfect balance in the RS16.
TCF takes a look at how Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have fared in comparison to each other at the halfway stage of the 2016 season, in our head-to-head report.
Magnussen and Palmer are closely matched in terms of qualifying results, seven to five, and race positions, six to four (with two race double DNF’s), but the Dane just comes out on top in both areas, having looked more settled in the RS16.
The former McLaren man, scored the Renault Sport F1 teams first and only points of the season at the Russian Grand Prix, a track where the Dane has gone well at throughout his career. Finishing in an impressive seventh place, Magnussen always looked in contention when battling with the midfield pack. The Enstone based team had hoped that was a sign of things to come and maybe the tables had turned on their troublesome start, but since then they have not managed to come home in a top ten position with either car.
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Palmer’s best result of the season meanwhile is a twelfth in both Austria and Hungary, and his drive in Budapest could have been his stand out performance of the season. However, F1 has a knack of hitting you when you are down, and whilst sitting in prime position to take tenth place, a spin at Turn four put an end to Palmer’s chances of taking his first point of the season. It was a costly error, and one the Brit may live to regret.
The performance of the RS16 at the Hungaroring did bring hope however, and although the last round prior to the summer break in Germany, did not go according to plan, Renault are certain they can achieve stronger results in the latter half of the season.
In the Drivers’ Championship Magnussen has the jump on team-mate Palmer, as the only member of the team to have scored any points so far this season. His seventh place finish in Sochi, puts him in sixteenth place in the standings with six points, whereas the Brit is four places further back in twentieth and zero score.
It has not been confirmed whether current drivers Magnussen and Palmer will remain with Renault in 2017, but the Enstone based team have hinted that they will make a decision in September, as well as indicating that they are looking for someone to shape a future around, but someone who can also lead the team to achieve greater things.
Whether Magnussen and Palmer have done enough to influence the French team’s decision so far this year is unknown, but they will no doubt do their best in the upcoming races to try to improve their chances.