A couple of years ago, Renault appeared to be primed to move back towards the front of the Formula One pack. With Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. they finished fourth in the constructors championship which isn’t a lot to hang your hat on, but when we’re in an era of the “Big 3” to be best of the rest is at least assuring.
Renault, was well clear of the midpack teams and set their sights for 2019 on shortening the gap from the bottom of the “Big 3” to themselves while also expanding the gap from the rest of the teams behind.
Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Not only did the gap to third grow wider, so did their gap on the rest of the field. In fact, they were not only caught by McLaren Racing, but passed by them too. Toro Rosso had even caught them, as their advantage as the “best of the rest” was gone.
That was big for them since they spent a lot of money in the offseason between 2018 and 2019 on signing Daniel Ricciardo. The Australia native was signed to replace the departing Carlos Sainz Jr. who left Renault in favor of McLaren.
2020 has been a wild start to the year without any races being run yet amid the coronavirus rearing its ugly head around this world of ours. That and silly season already starting in F1, has forced Renault as a big loser in the game this season.
Without a chance to prove that they can get back up to fourth in the constructors again and vie for a chance to be among the top teams to beat with new regulations for 2022 now, they lost out on keeping Ricciardo.
Ferrari cut ties with Sebastian Vettel. They quickly signed Sainz Jr. as his replacement. In turn, McLaren set their sights on Ricciardo, who obliged to a new contract with them for 2021 and beyond.
Renault, was the one with a seat open while the top drivers all moved up. Instead of being a destination that drivers want to go to, they’re all leaving for what they feel are better endeavors.
McLaren passed them in the constructors last year and now as a team people want to go to as well.
So, how does a team with a rich history of F1 success rebound? I think they should really look at a veteran driver like Fernando Alonso or even Vettel as Ricciardo’s replacement.
Renault has 12 constructors championships and 11 driver titles. They’ve got 168 race wins and 454 podiums to their credit. They last of those championships came back in 2013 with Red Bull Racing.
With Red Bull being with Honda now, the Renault team you see now is the lead team again. This is the one that Alonso won championships in during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. He has an itch to come back, so why not run a year in 2021 and then with the new regulations coming out for 2022, he’d be a great driver to help develop the car to put Renault back on the map again.
So could Vettel too. He’s arguably a top three driver of all-time in F1 behind Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton. He’s raced a Renault power unit before as well with all four of his titles coming with that.
Vettel, like Alonso, can give them a lot of data and feedback for 2021 to bring them back towards the front and in 2022 can help them be a contender.