Renault needs to up its game to avoid a “terrible” start to the 2016 season.
That was the warning in Barcelona of Jolyon Palmer, who has driven the black RS16, currently painted in interim black, so far this week.
He admitted to some concern that, after a bad start to his own campaign with two days of limited running, teammate Kevin Magnussen will now get a much clearer run on Wednesday and Thursday.
“Yes,” Palmer was quoted by the Danish media, “right now he’s in the box drinking coffee.
“Of course it’s nice to get the first laps with a new car, but I’m sure that he’ll do more distance than I’ve been able to, because some issues have been resolved.
“If this doesn’t happen, then the start of the season for us could be terrible.”
On paper, a works team should be eyeing the upper grid slots, but Renault took over the near-collapsing Lotus at the eleventh hour and had to remove the 2016 car’s fully-competitive Mercedes engine.
It means Palmer is having to consider the fact that Renault could be outperformed by F1 newcomer Haas.
“It’s hard to say,” he said. “I’m sure they’re not going to be like HRT or Virgin a few years ago. Haas will be in the fight, and I hope to be fighting them.”
A lot is therefore riding on the progress Dane Magnussen is able to make in the second half of the first Barcelona test.
“It would be nice to get some more laps (than Palmer did),” he admitted to the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
“But we’ll see. We knew that it would be difficult as we were so late, but that’s how it is.”
Finally, his new boss Frederic Vasseur allayed any fears that Magnussen should be concerned that his first choice for the seat alongside Palmer was actually Stoffel Vandoorne.
“He (Magnussen) has nothing to prove,” Vasseur told BT newspaper in Barcelona. “I am completely convinced of his potential, so he has nothing to worry about.”