Formula One: History backs Renault and Hulkenberg to succeed eventually
Renault’s return to Formula One as a manufacturer has been fraught with difficulties. But the French marque have been here before, and history suggests they’ll get things right sooner or later.
After buying out the Lotus team at the end of 2015, Renault have taken over control of their old Enstone premises – home of two driver and constructor titles in 2005 and 2006.
Drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer have fought hard to bag eight points, but that’s a measly return for one of motor racing’s greatest names.
This is the third time Renault have entered the sport as a constructor, and both times previously it took a couple of years for things to come together.
After their debut in 1977, a first full campaign in 1978 yielded, like this season, a handful of points.
But after a first win came their way at Dijon in 1979, the floodgates opened and 14 more victories followed in the next four seasons.
And after a 17-year hiatus, Renault’s second return in 2002 launched another familiar pattern.
A steady points-scoring campaign got things underway, before wins each of 2003 and 2004.
But it was in 2005 – the fourth year of the comeback – that things really took off and Fernando Alonso won the World Championship despite a relatively modest budget.
The squad also won the Constructor’s title, and followed it up with another double in 2006.
This then, all bodes very well for Nico Hulkenberg. The man Renault have chosen to lead them back into greatness, having signed him from Force India.
The jury is still out on the German, who has shown glimpses of sublime talent alongside some mediocre performances.
Pole position at Brazil in 2010 in his debut year for Williams, before a superb performance at the same venue two years later, left none in doubt over how good he can be.
But in three years with Force India, the German has failed to dominate team-mate Sergio Perez.
Is that because the Mexican – as some believe – is similarly hugely talented, or has the Hulk just not quite got that X-factor?
A large part of Hulkenberg’s decision to switch was the desire to work with a manufacturer, while next year will see him be the number one in a team for the first time.
Having driven for privateer teams exclusively in his career up to now, could this be the move which allows the 29-year-old to exploit his full potential?
Should team and driver push the other to new heights, there’s every reason to expect impressive surprises from Renault and Hulkenberg next year.
After all, the French squad have done it before.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.