F1 2016 review: A tough transitional year for Renault
Motorsport.com's experts rate the Formula 1 teams' performance during the 2016 season. Today: Renault, which spent the year at the back of the field as it builds for a better future.
By Giorgio Piola and Matt Somerfield
The RS16 will not be remembered as a technical marvel. The chassis - handicapped by a transition from the underfunded Lotus outfit - was designed to suit both the Mercedes and Renault power units.
This severely compromised performance and whilst the team made good with what little it had, the challenge posed by next year's regulations changes led to nothing more than bug fixes and aerodynamic choices that suited each circuit.
For example, in Italy the team presented a new cooling outlet at the rear of the car (pictured), not raced there but used as preparation for the warmer races that would follow.
Unable to make giant leaps it was forced to sacrifice outright performance in favour of reliability in a season that showed the growing pains of a manufacturer taking over a smaller team.
Jon Noble - 5
Renault knew it was going to take some time to turn its takeover of the Lotus team into solid results, but its struggles during 2016 were probably more than even it expected.
While progress at Enstone was immense, as new facilities, new staff and new equipment was evidence of change coming, the progress did not manifest itself on track as there was little point in throwing resources at this year's car with 2017 on the horizon.
Next year should deliver the first proper indication of the true impact Renault is having.
Oleg Karpov – 4
There probably weren't many people disappointed with Renault's results this year, as nobody probably expected anything from the team after such a tough period.
The deal was done very late, and this year was labelled as a transition year for a good reason. But there were some encouraging signs as team did improve during the campaign.
Glenn Freeman – 3
Renault was a fantastic example of how important two things are in Formula 1: having the right engine, and getting enough preparation time for a new season.
The car was brutally underdeveloped – and from trackside it was by far the most uncomfortable chassis to watch. While swapping a Mercedes engine for a Renault (late) is clearly a step down, the comparison to the 'TAG Heuer'-powered Red Bull showed just how far away the 2016 works team was.
Kate Walker - 6
For Renault, the late acquisition of Lotus meant that 2016 was always going to be a season spent getting the house in order, rather than one spent fighting for podiums.
The focus was on 2017 for much of the year, with Enstone's resources concentrated on a strong start under the incoming regulations.
Both drivers scored points, with 2017 returnee Jolyon Palmer securing P10 in Malaysia. In the other car, Kevin Magnussen managed seventh-place in Sochi, and 10th in Singapore.
Pablo Elizalde – 5
Renault would agree that, despite not having expectations for its first season back in F1, 2016 was quite a disaster.
The car was uncompetitive right from the start and it never got much better as the team focused on 2017 very early.
Now it has all the ingredients in place, it has to do much better next year.
Guillaume Navarro – 4
After some "tough love" from Red Bull and taking over a ruined Lotus team, Renault started from scratch in 2016. We knew that performance wouldn't be there, and the team still needs to grow – including its factory and drivers.
The French squad has a similar budget to Mercedes, political support from the Renault group, a long-term programme and new rules to make the most of: it definitely needs to show similar performance to its 2017 customers, Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
Erwin Jaeggi – 6
It was clear that 2016 was going to be a building year for Renault, after it decided that taking over the Lotus F1 team and turning it into a factory squad again was the right answer on their lackluster start of the V6 turbo era.
The first race in Australia didn't seem too bad, with Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer finishing just outside of the top 10, and a seventh place in the Russian Grand Prix was a pretty decent result too, but from then onwards it was a difficult season for the Enstone-based team.
But with the focus clearly on 2017, we can expect them to be back on a good level again next year.
Jacobo Vega - 4
I feel dissapointed because Renault is Renault. I know that it received a car not developed at all by Lotus, but we were supposed to see a better performance from a factory team.
I also was expecting more from Kevin Magnussen, a driver who showed us a lot of talent in his debut in 2014, but this year was matched by a rookie teammate in many of the races.
Final score: 4.63/10
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