Jack Aitken, Renault, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Renault hope to promote a junior driver by 2021

2021 F1 season

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Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul says the team wants to promote a driver from its roster of academy talent to F1 by 2021.

The team recently announced Esteban Ocon as one of its two drivers for next season. Renault looked at signing Ocon 12 months ago, but passed him over when Daniel Ricciardo became available.

“It was important when given the opportunity to seize the opportunity of a complete driver in Daniel last year and we don’t regret that at Renault,” said Abiteboul. “Just like right now we think it’s the right moment to start having some fresher blood.

“I think it’s a trend actually you can see in several teams. We are also interested in young drivers with our academy. We hope and expect to have possibly one driver from that academy by 2021. So it’s also a shift of dynamic to start really welcoming young drivers in our line-up.

“It’s not something that we would have been capable of doing two years ago but I think with more maturity in the team we can now envisage that. And that would be a good test to see if we are capable of also managing that because it’s a different type of management. Managing some who is 20, 22 or in his thirties, that’s different.”

Renault has expanded its young driver programme since returning to the sport. However it suffered the loss of one of its promising talents, Anthoine Hubert, who was killed at Spa two weeks ago.

Renault’s academy has also promoted Jack Aitken and ex-Ferrari Driver Academy member Guanyu Zhou into Formula 2. Its other racers include Max Fewtrell and Christian Lundgaard in Formula 3, and Victor Martins and Caio Collet in Formula Renault Eurocup.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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24 comments on “Renault hope to promote a junior driver by 2021”

  1. These young driver programs are a nuisance to the sport. F1 should have the 20 best drivers distributed over its 20 seats, rather than have a situation where a clearly superior driver is left without a seat because the manufacturer that binded him has too many good drivers atm (Ocon/Mercedes), while a lesser driver is almost guaranteed a seat because his manufacturer is short on talent atm (Giovinazzi/Ferrari), while yet another clan was simply lacking in drivers at all and had to scramble around for anyone with an old connection to them (Hartley/Red Bull) rather than going with the best available talent.

    1. Totally agree. Snag them young and promote them to F1 seats for a small amount. We get bland PR clones that will do anything to tow the company line because they feel so honoured to be part of the ‘family’.

    2. In the old days you got into the lower categories with money and we saw a lot more pay drivers in F1 and plenty of clear talent without a seat. While money involved is stil huge, teams will now take care of younger drivers which means we have more talent and skill in F1 then ever. It’s not a perfect system, there will always be politics, it’s pretty good overal.

  2. -send MAR to japan and he underperforms
    -keeps AIT
    -keeps SIR
    -looses HUB

    the futur of renault is gruesome

    1. You make it sound as if losing Hubert was a choice they made.

  3. So Ocon will either just stay a year or they will part from Daniel after next year?

    1. @Mayrton Maybe.

    2. Ocon has a 2-year contract though. So it would be Ricciardo that has his seat on the line. Not that I believe Renault is really replacing any of their driver next year if they have a say on it.

    3. Maybe ‘by 2021’ means announced in 2021 for the 2022 season. Ocon may no longer be available then.

  4. Anthoine Hubert, who was killed at Spa two weeks ago

    Does not get any better reading this 2 weeks after. :(

  5. There’s an odd chance for history to repeat itself. Bianchi was on the way up to Ferrari when the team wasn’t at its best. Then came Leclerc and he has already prove he can win. Now Hubert was on his way up but we all know what happend.. But if Renault 2021 is a package that can became a race winning team there could be another young driver climbing the ladder rapidly such like what happend at Ferrari.

  6. I don’t think any of the drivers Renault have right now look capable of coming into the sport in 2021 in a team that immediately will want to have a package capable of wins/podiums. Lundgaard is probably their brightest talent but he won’t be ready by then. Aitken and Zhou will probably be decent midfield drivers.

  7. Given their current drivers, I can only assume that “promotion” means to become a simulator/reserve driver.

    Either that or Renault is planning on bringing in a new team (or an engine supply deal) to F1.

    1. @dbradock That’s what I make of it: reserve driver.

  8. Zhou will make it.

    Was heading to a decent result in Monza until Latifi punctured him and the stewards gave him a penalty for that.

    The kid is good and the fact he is Chinese might help as well

    1. He does seem to have some momentum going for him!

  9. Perhaps he’s just planning for the possibility that Dan will leave in 2021. I know I would.

  10. Oh Cyril. Signed a top driver to take themselves to the next level. Now sounds like they want to sign junior driver (super cheap).
    Cyril will ruin what’s left of Renault then proceed to lead other Renault projects to oblivion.

  11. Renault’s F1 team have problems but the drivers aren’t it. Hulkenberg & Ricciardo are good and they’re taking Ocon now who’s also good. They ALREADY HAVE decent drivers? Why they’re banging on about their young driver programme and taking ‘younger’ drivers seems ridiculous to me when their car is still being outperformed by their customer team. Fix the car and the team and then you’ll have the choice of whoever you want.

    1. Well said @rocketpanda.

      Maybe Cyril is assuming they will need at least one new driver in 2021. Or maybe he is laughably trying to put pressure on his drivers when, as you mention, he would be better off sorting out the car. They had a good result last time but they are being beaten by a customer team (again).

      1. Maybe he is rather trying to show his young drivers that there IS a perspective inside the team @phil-f1-21, @rocketpanda than expressing anything about his current drivers.

        Surely Aitken will be working on getting into something before 2021 and Zhou would surely also be looking at his options.

    2. Money… Ocon is cheap, and a young driver is a lot cheaper then Ricci.
      So with >1000bhp and a lousy chassis and teammanager you should invest in…
      ( Abiteboul: cheaper drivers)

  12. So in 2021 when new regulations go into effect they’re going to fire a veteran race winner and pair Ocon with a rookie?

    That does not inspire a lot of confidence.

  13. Is Panther a new Renault team? Would be good for Aitken and Zhou.

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