So here it is, the Renault Sport RS17, Renault’s F1 car for the 2017 Formula One season. It’s the first 2017 F1 car to come from one of the big manufacturer teams, with Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari expected to show off theirs soon.
Drivers Jolyon Palmer and new signing Nico Hulkenberg pulled the wraps off the RS17, and – after last season’s rather dire performance – will no doubt be hoping this will help move them up the grid.
Quite far up the grid, too. Though Renault Sport themselves admit last year was a building year, the RS17 has a more challenging task: to make good on Renault’s stated ambition of achieving a particular spot in the Constructors’ Championship.
“We are the fastest growing F1 team and we now need to prove our performance on track,” Renault Sport’s MD Cyril Abiteboul explains. “Our objective is to score points at every round.”
Jerome Stroll, Renault Sport Racing boss, went further still: “The R.S.17 is the first car which Enstone and Viry have been able to plan and develop from the outset and we’re satisfied by the fruits of this interaction. It’s a beautiful car.
“We want to take a definite, tangible step forward in performance and results. Fifth position in the Constructors’ Championship is our goal.”
Deep down, there’s the sense that Renault might even get a sniff at a podium at some point in the season, and so far, the car at least looks the part. F1’s new technical regulations have resulted in wider, fatter tyres, and you’ll agree that in this new brighter yellow livery and those tyres, the RS17 looks quite mean.
And there’s form in those looks, too: RS’s chief technical director Bob Bell previously built championship-winning cars for Fernando Alonso and Renault back in 2005 and 2006. He’s optimistic about the season, not just for Renault’s ambition, but for the actual racing itself too. Reckon on around a 3.5s per lap advantage over some of the circuits this year compared to last year, allied to more mechanical grip, and we’ll hopefully see some handy overtaking.
Which brings us neatly onto Renault’s driver line-up for 2017. New boy Nico Hulkenberg has already proved his credentials: he won Le Mans in his first year with Porsche, and helped Force India to fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. No concerns over his speed, then.
Brit Jolyon Palmer lines up alongside Nico. Palmer, now entering his second season with Renault and F1, certainly had the measure of Kevin Magnussen last year, looks comfortable in the team and can only profit from Nico and Renault’s desire to move up the grid.
So despite the fact Renault admit this won’t be their year, they’re making the right noises. Plus, a winning Renault back in F1 against a winning Ferrari (think Villeneuve vs Arnoux at Dijon here) can only be a good thing.
Oh, and Alain Prost was on hand today, and thinks 2017’s F1 cars will be a lot more physical for the drivers, reminding him of the old days. That can only be great for bringing in new fans.
Roll on F1 2017, we hope you don’t disappoint.