Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn’s comments about the French manufacturer's return as a works outfit in 2016 has cast doubt on its driver line-up for next year.
2012 Spanish Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado and 2014 GP2 series champion Jolyon Palmer both signed a contract with Lotus before Renault effectively bought out the Enstone-based squad.
Palmer claimed in late October that his promotion to a race seat – the Briton served as Lotus’ reserve driver for 2015 – had been given the green light by Renault. Maldonado had been confirmed in the wake of the Singapore race, but admitted thereafter to remaining uncertain about his F1 future.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Figaro, Ghosn was asked whether there would be a French driver in the line-up. To which he replied: “You will have to wait for a few weeks. We will tell you about the organisation, the goals, the drivers, the strategy and the partners in January.”
With 2016 bound to a be a year of transition, it is believed that Renault will honour Palmer and Maldonado’s contracts, thus avoiding the sort of legal row that embroiled Sauber and Giedo van der Garde at the start of the 2015 campaign.
The only French racer currently on the grid is Romain Grosjean, who incidentally left Lotus for newcomers Haas amidst growing doubts over the Renault takeover.
Other French nationals currently on the fringes of F1 include Ferrari test driver Jean-Eric Vergne, Red Bull reserve Pierre Gasly, and 2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon, though the latter has already been confirmed as a Mercedes junior for 2016.
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