Formula 1 – Formula 1: Renault: ‘Small steps’ being made in 2021 junior target

Formula 1 – Formula 1: Renault: ‘Small steps’ being made in 2021 junior target

Renault says “small steps” are being made in its target to have one of its junior drivers compete in Formula 1 by 2021.

Renault revived its young driver scheme when it returned to Formula 1 as a works team in 2016.

It currently has Jack Aitken, Max Fewtrell, Christian Lundgaard, Victor Martins, Arthur Rougier, Sacha Fenestraz and Sun Yue Yang on its books, and counts Anthoine Hubert as an Affiliated Driver.

Aitken held the role as Renault’s Formula 1 test and reserve driver this year, leading to an outing in the R.S.18, but placed only 11th in the Formula 2 championship, his season tailing off after taking victory in Barcelona.

Fewtrell edged Lundgaard to win the Formula Renault Eurocup title, while Martins placed fifth in that series, with Rougier 15th.

Fenestraz was a low-key 11th in European Formula 3, though placed third at the Macau Grand Prix, while ‘Sunny’ was 10th in BRDC British Formula 3.

Hubert, meanwhile, claimed the GP3 Series title.

Junior teams have become more prominent in motorsport in recent years, with Red Bull using its scheme to promote drivers to Formula 1, while Ferrari protégé Charles Leclerc will don its red overalls in 2019.

Mercedes-backed George Russell will graduate with Williams while McLaren has promoted junior Lando Norris to one of its 2019 race seats.

“The objective of the Academy has always been long-term: to have an Academy driver in the Formula 1 race seat by 2021,” said Academy chief Mia Sharizman.

“We’re making small steps and at this stage, we are meeting our targets. Drivers are beginning to fulfil certain, prominent roles within the team and this will continue to grow.

“Title wins are of course the better moments for young drivers, their teams and for us as a development programme.

“But it’s not always just about winning titles, more the manner in the way they are won.

“There are certain moments in a season where you realise which drivers you want to develop further.

“There are also moments – sometimes away from the track – where you see the necessary characteristics required to go all the way within a driver: ruthlessness, a champion attitude, team work and hunger.

“There are options for the future and the stage is set for the second phase for both the Formula 1 team and the Academy.

“We believe we have drivers who will mature in the time frame in parallel with the second part of progression for the Formula 1 team.

“The timing is right with the drivers we have, the level of racing they are signed to for next year and the year after, making the long-term target achievable.”

Renault has yet to define its 2019 academy line-up.

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