Former Formula 1 driver and new Sky Sports pundit Karun Chandhok believes that the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team are still “at least a year” shy of fighting for a spot in the top three of the Constructors’ Championship.
For the first time since its return to Formula 1 as a works team in 2016, Renault recorded a top four finish in the standings but stood 297 points adrift of third-placed team Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. The team is also yet to record a podium, with two fifth place finishes in last year’s Azerbaijan and German Grands Prix, through Carlos Sainz Jr. and Nico Hülkenberg respectively, standing as its best result.
Last summer, the French marque managed to lure Daniel Ricciardo away from Red Bull on a two-year-deal that started this year and have retained the services of Hülkenberg; the German’s contract expires at the end of ’19.
Speaking to The Checkered Flag, Chandhok said that it will be “hard” for Renault to break the top three barrier for the moment.
“I think they’re still at least a year away from that,” the former HRT driver said.
“If they could sneak in the odd podium on a good weekend for them and a bad weekend for one of the top teams, they’ll be happy with that.”
Renault Sport have rebuilt the power unit after admitting that it had underestimated the development potential of the current regulations, making little to no ground on benchmarks Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari over the course of five seasons.
Its likeliest chance of progressing up the order comes in the shape of Red Bull’s new partnership with Honda – after ending its customer deal with Renault for 2019 – and Chandhok says that the matter will be “interesting” to see. The Japanese manufacturer still have a lot to prove after a troublesome return to F1 with the McLaren F1 Team and Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda.
“We have to assume that Ferrari and Mercedes are going to be competitive again, they have been for the last couple of years and hopefully they will be again,” he added.
“We know that the Red Bull chassis is very quick and if the Honda engine can deliver, then we might have three teams in the mix which should be brilliant for the sport.”