Jolyon Palmer believes Renault can possibly score a podium finish in the upcoming Formula 1 season, despite the uncertainty caused by a major change in regulations.
Renault made a difficult return to the sport this season following their late-buyout of Lotus, finishing ninth in the championship with eight points on the table.
It’s best finish came during the Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya, where Haas-bound Kevin Magnussen crossed the line in seventh place.
But Palmer, who has been retained for a second season, believes the French manufacturer should be able to make enough strides to score a rostrum result in 2017.
"I dream of a podium," he told Autocar. "Obviously, everything's up in the air at present. If we scored a podium, it would have to be the result of a perfect race.”
"But if Force India can get two of them in 2016, we can do it this year. That's what I feel right now, anyway."
While a one-off podium result is high on Palmer’s agenda, the Englishman also wants Renault to become a regular point-scorer.
"We think the top three - Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari - will continue to lead, but we can fight in the next group with Williams, Force India, McLaren and maybe Toro Rosso. We want to be fighting for points in every race,’’ he said.
Palmer’s remarks are in stark contrast to that of his new teammate Nico Hulkenberg, who expects 2017 to be another build-up year for Renault.
"I think this year is still a build-up year. We have to be realistic," Hulkenberg said.
"They didn’t do much in terms of development of this car [RS16], so I hope this year is a little bit better already. But I don’t expect to be there in the top six straight away, even top 10 is going to be challenging.
"These things take long - to build an infrastructure back up and get good people back on board and develop the car.” he added.
by Rachit Thukral