Rowland sets sights on Renault seat in 2018

25.05.2017 - Oliver Rowland (GBR) DAMS
© XPB 

Oliver Rowland has made it clear that he's eyeing a seat in Formula 1 next season.

The 24-year-old from Sheffield has been part of the Renault F1 set-up since 2016. Last year he was enrolled in the team's young driver programme, and this season he is the squad's development driver.

Rowland won the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 title, and is currently in second place in this year's Formula 2 championship.

"I need to improve a little bit in Formula 2," the driver told this week. "I have to do my job first before I start looking and bigging myself up for that drive.

"It'll come down to me doing a good job in Formula 2, if I have a chance to get the seat."

Renault's current driver line-up consists of Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer. Hulkenberg remains under contract in 2018, but Palmer's position is looking precarious after a troubled start to the current season.

"I think I can be as quick as anybody," Rowland insisted. "I've showed that I'm consistent, so I don't see any reason why I can't be in the frame."

Stepping into the role of development driver at Renault has given Rowland's F1 hopes a boost. He's been responsible for undertaking much of the simulator work at Enstone this season.

“I've been in the factory a lot, behind closed doors. I think we have a good relationship," he said.

Drivers including Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll have recently been fast-tracked into Formula 1. Rowland admitted that this made him worry about being overlooked and losing out.

"If Max never got the chance [to get into F1 so early], who knows," he said. "Maybe if he'd gone to F2 and the team's one second off - you can't do one second, it's not possible.

"The teams need to give younger drivers a chance. All we need is one chance to show if we're good enough," he said, adding that 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly was in a similar situation to himself.

"I think me and Pierre have proved ourselves against the likes of [Ocon]," Rowland asserted. "Sometimes you get the break, and [Ocon] did - but he did a good year in F3 and GP3.

"I think we can do a much better job than some of the people already in there," he added, naming no names.

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