Amidst growing rumours that his Formula 1 days are numbered, Renault Sport F1 Team boss Cyril Abiteboul has assured Jolyon Palmer that his seat at Renault is safe.
Palmer is yet to score points in 2017, a season plagued by poor qualifying performances and even worse reliability for the Brit in his second season of grand prix competition. It’s meant that Palmer has had his fair share of coverage when it comes to the driver market, with rumours circling that he could be replaced during the current season.
The most recent rumours came at the British Grand Prix were Palmer’s Renault expired before even making the start of the race whilst his team-mate, Nico Hulkenberg, finished a season’s best sixth. The rumour mill suggested that Palmer could be replaced as soon as the next round in Hungary, but Abiteboul has moved to quash those rumours.
“I have completely dismissed speculation of him being replaced in Budapest,” he told Motorsport.com. “It’s not good, particularly on Sunday morning.
“When I found out the proportion it had taken on the media side I made it clear to everyone that there was absolutely nothing true in that, and I told that to Jo directly.
“I wanted to clear that off his mind before the start.”
It’s been a frustrating year for Palmer, made worse by his non-start at his home grand prix, something for which Abiteboul feels particularly sorry.
“We are extremely sorry and frustrated for Jo,” Abiteboul said. “I’m sure that with all that happened today [Sunday], and looking at the pace of Nico, he would have had the capacity to be in the points.
“So extremely sorry, and all our apologies. There is no good moment, but it was definitely not a good moment. He knows that he has our support, and our commitment.
“It’s a big disappointment what happened to him, because he was feeling very well in the car, and in the team, and his confidence is rebuilding. But he has to have the hardware.”
Palmer himself has dealt with repeated blows throughout the year but Abiteboul believes that Renault can continue to inspire confidence in their young driver.
“I think the potential of the team, and the potential of the car, is there. And that is the easiest way to rebuild confidence and motivation.
“Even though it has been two tough back-to-backs I think we would race tomorrow given the prospects that we have today. Our first priority is to get our act together on reliability, in particular on his side.”