The Renault F1 Team‘s most recent reincarnation enters their fifth season since their Formula 1 return with pressure at the highest it has ever been.
After an annus horribilis last season which saw the French marquee suffer the ignominy of being beaten by their customers McLaren, Renault are desperate to recapture the glory days from the teams former incarnations – but merely a visit to the podium will mark a massive step in the right direction.
A podium in yellow?
For Daniel Ricciardo his move to Renault was seen by many in the paddock as a step backwards from Aston Martin Red Bull Honda – a team which allowed him to claim seven Grand Prix victories to Renault – who had failed to make the top three since their comeback.
Yet the Australian was brazen, believing his call was the right one for him in the long run, and while Red Bull claimed three wins last season courtesy of his former team-mate Max Verstappen – Renault and Ricciardo floundered to fifth overall in the constructors championship.
With the 30-year-old securing a best finish of fourth at Monza it is clear that his ambitions were higher for the Enstone project.
Despite this, 2020 marks a fresh chance for Ricciardo to lead the French squad back onto the rostrum and as pre-season has shown it seems that the new RS20 is reasonably competitive and towards the front of a hotly contested midfield – with them looking set to face old adversaries McLaren as well as Racing Point for the coveted ‘best of the rest’ position.
Is 2020 the year to finally see a shoey in yellow? If it isn’t would Ricciardo look elsewhere ahead of the 2021 regulations changes?
Formula 1’s forgotten future champion?
Two Years ago Esteban Ocon was considered to be a future world champion and was one of the sports hottest commodities, battling hard with his team-mate Sergio Perez heavily.
Those battles carved the Frenchman out as a potential future star, with a third place in Qualifying for the 2018 Belgian Grand Prix displaying his talents to all.
Yet as we flash forward to present day he is now F1’s forgotten star – the man that beat Max Verstappen to a Formula 3 title, before claiming the GP3 title in his rookie season has now become an after thought in the sports burgeoning new generation headed by his rival Verstappen as well as Charles Leclerc.
For 2020 Ocon’s goal has to be to assert himself into the upper-echeleon of the sports talents and he has a golden oppurtunity to do so.
He finds himself up against the highly-rated Daniel Ricciardo, the man who beat quadruple world chamipion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull – and the Frenchman will be hoping for a simirlarly monumental victory in his intra-team clash.
The ingriedients for which are mouth-watering to say the least once you consider Ocon’s fraught history in regards to intra-team hostilities.
But have they made the gains to deliver?
Renault’s 2020 car was revealed to the paddock with a strikingly different nose to the one that its predecessor had.
This facelift was designed with the task to solve the front end problems whch hampered Renault’s 2019 season.
Well pre-season ended on a rather promising note for Renault, they were the third fastest team once the sun set on testing in Barcelona – courtesy of Daniel Ricciardo setting a lap time of 1m16.276s
Critically this was faster than their main midfield rivals could produce, albeit on a softer tyre than Racing Point.
However, their short run pace was supported by F1’a official data which suggests that the Enstone squad have made the biggest leap since last years’ Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a mammoth 2.91%.
So what can Renault achieve in 2020?
Renault will be aiming to restore themselves to the front of F1’s tightly contested midfield after last seasons dip in form.
It seems that the French outfit are set to lock horns with Racing Point and McLaren for the prestigous status based upon the competitive testing times displayed by all three constructors and their aim must be to win that duel.
Furthermore, they are fully pushing to score their first podium since returning to the sport – one which will be the first for team Enstone since Romain Grosjean for Lotus and the 2015 Belgian Grand Prix, and a first for Renault since Robert Kubica at the same circuit five years prior.
They have one of the standout driver line-ups on the grid with two bonafide stars set to clash, and controlling two drivers who will both want to be the team’s number one will be critical to the squads success.