Renault Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul has warned Jolyon Palmer that his future at the team is not secure following the Englishman’s nightmare start to the season.
Palmer narrowly avoided the axe at the end of an underwhelming rookie campaign and is under pressure once again after failing to score points in any of the first seven races.
The former GP2 champion has been consistently outpaced by team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, who has finished in the top ten on four occasions.
Indeed, Abiteboul confesses the team has found itself “very dependent” on the German driver this term.
“No one is safe in F1,” Abiteboul told Autosport. “F1 is not an environment where anyone can say loudly, ‘I’m safe.’ To a certain degree, there are two questions.
“There is Jo [Palmer], and there is a second driver. Right now my focus is on Jo. Jo has to deliver.
What would happen then, I don’t want to elaborate on that, and even further, who would be stepping in, because that’s absolutely not the point for today.
“The fact is that Jo has a car which is a points-scoring car, and he has to enter into the points. Full stop.
“Right now I feel that it’s a bit almost unfair to Nico, who has to do a lot. The team is clearly very dependent on him.”
Abiteboul, though, insists the team is fully behind Palmer as he looks to narrow the deficit to Hulkenberg.
“We see that there is a very substantial gap between Nico and Jo in qualifying, and in the race,” he added. “We are discussing on a regular basis obviously with Jo to see how he can improve.”