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Renault: 2017 driver decision expected early September

16 Aug 2016

Renault team principal Fred Vasseur has refused to give anything away about the French squad’s line-up for next season - only than that it is likely to be confirmed early next month.

Vasseur praised current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer, denying that they have been making too many mistakes as Renault battle to re-establish themselves as a works team.

“It’s not easy for them either,” he told “They have been used to winning in the past - and now they are cut off from that.

“I see both of them improving. Keep in mind that Jo (Palmer) is a rookie and Kevin did only one season [of F1] before - and that was two years ago.

“Jo has been improving a lot - true he spun in Hungary, but so far he did a good job. And that also goes for Kevin. Both have a very optimistic approach. They are a good support for the team.”

Vasseur hinted that this ability to inspire and motivate colleagues could play a key role in Renault’s choice of drivers for next season, when they will be looking to move up the grid after what has thus far been a tough 2016 campaign.

“If you look at the success stories of the past, success was always built around a driver: Schumacher and Ferrari, Vettel and Red Bull, Lewis and Mercedes, and also Alonso and Renault in the past - so the driver is important,” said Vasseur.

“A driver is not only about performance, but about being capable of leading a team. Right now we have more or less a thousand people in the team, if you take Viry and Enstone together, and that needs some sort of emotional leadership - and that is the job for a driver! We need a driver who is super-motivated and able to super-motivate everybody else.”

Asked if Magnussen and Palmer fit that bill, and when a decision might be made, Vasseur stated : “They are improving! We know we are on the grid, so ‘improving’ is written in capital letters for us. It is too early to make any decision right here and now. We will probably do it at the beginning of September."

Other men thought to be in the frame for a 2017 Renault seat include Frenchman Esteban Ocon, who after serving as their reserve this season will make his F1 race debut - with Manor - in Belgium later this month.

Look out for the full exclusive interview with Fred Vasseur later this week on