MARCH 2, 2016
One-year deals for Magnussen and Palmer
Frederic Vasseur, the new team boss at Renault, has admitted neither team driver has a guaranteed future with the French marque beyond 2016.
"Both drivers have a contract for one season," he is quoted by the Danish broadcaster TV2, referring to Dane Kevin Magnussen and Briton Jolyon Palmer.
"Formula one is moving all the time and you can't say your drivers are staying for five or six years. Right now for us it's more about building a strong base."
Indeed, after taking over the near-collapsed Lotus at the eleventh hour, Renault is keeping its expectations very low for the 2016 season.
"We are in the battle around the points," Magnussen said at the Barcelona test on Tuesday.
"Maybe just outside the points. I think if we get both cars in the points in Melbourne, that will be a really good weekend."
But Vasseur said that although 2016 will not be about winning, that does not mean the drivers are unimportant for Renault.
"It is very important that you have the right drivers," he insisted, "as the whole team is of course built on them. But first and foremost we need to deliver a car that they can do (good) results with.
"It has to be in the right order," Vasseur said.
The co-founder of the ultra-successful formative team ART, Frenchman Vasseur arrives in the F1 paddock already with a reputation for being one of the sport's hard men.
He laughs: "I'm definitely not the right one to answer that. But ok, maybe my leadership style can be hard. It's not the first time I have heard it!"
Indeed, his welcoming message for Dane Magnussen recently was that Vasseur's first choice for the 2016 seat was in fact McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne.
But Vasseur insists: "I've known Kevin for a long time and I'm convinced that he's going to deliver.
"The feedback I am getting from the team describes someone who is extremely dedicated. Kevin has a really good reputation," Vasseur added.