Renault’s F1 works return – begun in 2016 following the French marque’s takeover of the Lotus team – is proving a real challenge. New management embarked on a long-term restructuring programme aimed at returning the famous name to race-winning glory, but thus far their battle has been one to top the midfield, rather than challenging the big three teams for podiums...
Progress up the championship order is halted, ironically by new Renault customers McLaren, who demote them to fifth in the standings, despite Daniel Ricciardo securing their best result to date with P4 in Italy.
Rise up the grid continues apace, seeing off Haas to become ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams. Not quite podium contenders yet – fifth places in Azerbaijan and Germany are their best results – but their obvious potential lures Daniel Ricciardo away from Red Bull for 2019, replacing Carlos Sainz.
Huge strides are made with the team’s first car designed around their own powerplant, resulting in a sevenfold increase in points scored and a four-place leap in the standings. Jolyon Palmer replaced as Nico Hulkenberg’s team mate mid-season, with Carlos Sainz joining to form one of the grid’s strongest driver line-ups.