Renault signs Rowland as F1 development driver

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Renault has signed Formula 2 racer Oliver Rowland as the team's official Formula One development driver for the 2017 season.

Rowland, who will contest the rebranded GP2 series this year with DAMS, will undertake a simulator programme for the French manufacturer as well as getting some track time, though his precise schedule has not yet been confirmed. The 24-year-old finished ninth in his first full GP2 campaign with MP Motorsport in 2016, recording four podium finishes across the season, following his title-winning campaign in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in 2015.

"My aim has always been to get a role in Formula One so it's great to see all my hard work pay off," Rowland said. "The Renault Sport Academy was the perfect training ground and the role of Development Driver is another great step after being within the Renault family for so many years with Formula Renault 2.0 and 3.5 and then the Academy too.

"I learnt a lot last year including working at Enstone in the simulator, so I feel well prepared for this role. I'm proud to be part of the team and I'll be working hard to do everything I can to assist the team in their development of the R.S.17."

Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul added: "We know Oliver very well and we are very pleased to reward his work with this position with Renault Sport Formula One Team. Development Driver is an important position in a team and it is very interesting to have someone who already knows us well."