Renault in 'a number of discussions' over drivers

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Renault has "a number of discussions going on" with potential drivers for 2017 as it nears a decision over next season's line-up.

Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer are both out of contract at the end of the season having joined the team at the start of 2016. Renault has struggled this year as it rebuilds following its takeover of the cash-strapped Lotus team but is expecting to be more competitive next season as a result of new regulations.

Managing director Cyril Abiteboul told F1i he wants a decision made - if not finalised - on next year's driver line-up by the end of this month, and says there are numerous talks taking place.

"Absolutely September is the month where this has to be clarified or at least start to take a very clear orientation," Abiteboul said. "We have orientation, we’ve got preferences but we keep that for ourselves for the time being.

"But we’ve got a number of discussions going on, people are interested in the project, the project is a long-term project so I accept also that the drivers need to protect themselves in time.

"Hopefully they don’t look at what’s going on at the track but think about what Renault has always done when they joined motorsport, what Enstone as a team has always done also In Formula One, and also the time it takes to build a proper project.

"So I hope that the drivers we are talking to will factor that into their decision, but anyway we are very keen to get that sorted out as quickly as possible."

Adding that both race drivers are "absolutely" in the frame to remain with the team, Abiteboul says the recent announcements of Felipe Massa and Jenson Button not racing in F1 next year will accelerate the market.

“Yeah, I think that will speed things up a little bit. As far as we’re concerned we were not necessarily the most exposed to those retirements, we are more interested in the young people than the people retiring. But obviously they are collateral impact so we will see, maybe by Singapore we’ll have a better clarity about what is going to happen.”

Mercedes youngster Esteban Ocon is understood to be on Renault's radar for next season, while Sergio Perez was linked with a move to Enstone but is expected to remain at Force India.


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