It felt like a statement of intent when Renault managed to lure star Daniel Ricciardo away from Red Bull Racing a year ago, but the Aussie is already leaving the works team for McLaren next year. Can they lure in another star like Sebastian Vettel to replace Ricciardo?
If Renault want to stop dishing out massive salaries like they did with Ricciardo, they can look within their own academy for a replacement.
In Formula 2, youngster Guanyu Zhou had an impressive rookie campaign in 2019. A Ferrari Driver Academy product, the 20-year-old lacks experience but is clearly gifted, and one that will be loyal to Renault in the long-term if they hand him a promotion.
Teenager Christian Lundgaard also looks a promising talent, but having only just been promoted to Formula 2, F1 could be a bit too much for the Dane, unless he blows the F2 grid away in 2020!
Going for broke
Should Renault want to swing for the fences, as they did when they snapped up Ricciardo, they could try and pursue Vettel as the German is leaving Ferrari at the end of 2020.
A 53-time Grand Prix winner and a four-time champion, Vettel is as much of a proven winner as you can get in all of motorsport.
Besides the massive salary he will demand, Vettel will not want to be driving for a midfield team at this point in his career. For me, it’s as simple as this: if Renault want Vettel, they have to prove in 2020 that they have made a big leap forward and can fight for podiums, at least.
An old friend
Another big name but equally big of a risk is Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard spent seven years and won both his titles at Renault but will have been out of F1 for two full seasons by 2021. Not to mention his age: he will turn 40 in 2021.
A generational talent, getting Alonso onboard would get Renault a tonne of publicity and sponsors. It will not be a long-term solution, however, but Alonso could be a very nice placeholder while the French side look for a long-term solution heading into the new era of regulations in 2022.