Not much was expected of the former factory team after “The Mankini” poster boy Briatore was cast to the badlands. Not that bad for him really, maybe just a slighty smaller mega yacht. A touch and go off season, with Renault taking a step back because of all the controversy with Piquet Jr . Genaii Capitol took over the major control, but while this turmoil was going on someone must have been keeping their head down at the factory, because they turned out a pretty good car, and on some tracks, a very good car. Once their iteration of the F-Duct was implemented fairly late into the season, you could have said it was the 4th best car on the grid, in fact I will say that.
Wow what a stunning year for the Pole. I’ve always said that the mark of a great driver is to make a presense in a car that shouldn’t be there, and he certainly did that. But for an errant wheel at Korea he may have had a shot at 6th in the championship and it would have been well deserved. He may have singlehandedly saved the Renault F1 program. The car was good for sure, but he went beyond the car in some races. Three podiums during the season at Australia, Monaco and Spa highlight the season, but he was always fast, very fast and one of the best racers out there during the races as well. As the years go by and you look at the standings you may not look down at 8th in the standings and go wow, but hopefully his performance this year sees him in a championship contending seat very soon. Can you hear the drums Felipe?
Can he make the grade in F1? To tell you the truth I have no idea, better to ask Bernie and Putin. It looks like he will be here for another year and probably at least till the first Russian GP, which will give us a much better idea. When you come into F1 with cash in your pocket your shelf life is only as good as your sponsors bank account, and that can freeze up at any minute, so you’ve got to make an impression quick in the hopes that eventually you’ll get a ride on merit. A very inconsistent season, which you would expect from a rookie of course, plus the added pressure from an extremely good team mate. Just when you thought he was gaining his stride, he would slip backwards. Two races, Hungary and Abu Dhabi come to mind of what he may be capable of, he could certainly race well, but the errors were too great in the long run. If he’d been able to stay on the track more often Renault may have had a shot at Mercedes in the team championship, but that would have been a lofty goal.
I like his fighting style, and the last race with Alonso on his tail nearly all race long showed that he may be coming around to blending speed with restraint.