Renault not "writing off" Magnussen, Palmer for 2017

Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul is not "writing off" the team's existing line-up of Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer – and says the French marque needs to craft its own Sebastian Vettel for the long term.

Renault not "writing off" Magnussen, Palmer for 2017
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault signing autographs
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Jolyon Palmer, Renault Sport F1 Team on the grid
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16
Kevin Magnussen, Renault Sport F1 Team RS16

Speculation continues to swirl regarding the Enstone-based team's driver line-up for 2017, as it evaluates a number of possible options – including Sergio Perez, Valtteri Bottas and current reserve driver Esteban Ocon.

Magnussen has scored points only once all season, finishing seventh in Sochi, while F1 rookie Palmer has yet to register his first top 10 finish.

But, discussing the Renault driver situation with Motorsport.com, Abiteboul defended the performances of both incumbents, who he says have done well considering the limits of their machinery.

The Frenchman added that recruiting a star name isn't essential to future success, pointing to the example of Red Bull choosing Vettel to spearhead its world championship efforts.

Said Abiteboul: "Hopefully people realise that with our current line-up, we are not writing them off.

"We will have to see how the season is panning out, but they are doing a good job with the hardware they are given, frankly.

"Having a leader [for the future], we will need that – but when Red Bull made the choice of Vettel, he was not a world champion and Red Bull was not a world champion – they grew together.

"Years later, in hindsight, it is an obvious association, but actually in the early days it was not at all the situation.

"If there is a model I would say we are more towards that model of maybe finding the Vettel of tomorrow, growing together, maybe become champion together.

"Buying an existing world champion, I don't think this is an absolute necessity in modern F1."

Money saving

Renault has previously stated its intention to groom its own champion of the future as it strives to recapture former glories, and Abiteboul says such a strategy makes sense from a financial standpoint - adding buying in an established star may not be "wise".

"We may have the capability to build that future world champion driver together, so maybe he will be with us in 2017 and maybe we will be champion together in 2020," said Abiteboul.

"It is a great strategy from a sporting perspective and from a marketing perspective but also a financial perspective.

"It is not secret that it costs far less to do that than to buy a star that is already well accomplished – even though it is a fantastic opportunity.

"We are not writing off any opportunity, frankly we have the financial capability to buy a star today, but I am not sure this is a wise move to make."

Interview by Jonathan Noble

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