Vasseur hints at ’two lead drivers’ for Renault

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Frederic Vasseur says Renault's 2017 Formula One line-up could feature two lead drivers, with the team principal pointing to the successful example of Mercedes.

The French manufacturer announced on Friday that Nico Hulkenberg would join its works team from next year, with the German ace expected to lead Renault’s efforts as it seeks to return to winning ways as an F1 constructor.

Several drivers are in contention to become Hulkenberg’s team-mate and Vasseur says the latter could be on equal footing with the former Le Mans 24 Hours winner.

“Why wouldn't we have two team leaders?” Vasseur told French-speaking newspaper L’Equipe. “At Mercedes, it works perfectly.

“I don’t like the idea of having a top driver and another one left in the shadow. Performance comes emulation.

“Just look at Mercedes: the duel [between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg] has pushed the team forward. The idea would be to have two equally talented drivers.”

With Renault also keen to have a homegrown talent in its line-up, Manor rookie Esteban Ocon has repeatedly been tipped for a full-time role with the French manufacturer.

“He is on our short-list,” Vasseur added. “It’s not a secret. We give ourselves a few races to monitor every candidate for our second seat before making the decision.

“Each race brings more valuable information. Ocon’s performance in Suzuka last weekend was very rewarding for him compared to his team-mate. He had an excellent Japanese Grand Prix.”

Current drivers Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen remain in the frame too, though the Dane’s contract option expired on Friday 14 October.

Valtteri Bottas’ name has also appeared on the rumour mill in recent weeks, with the Williams ace yet to confirm his plans for 2017.

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