Inevitably, it's been the exploits of the Big Four (McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes) and the return of Michael Schumacher that has garnered most of the attention in the season's first four grands prix. But, for me, the Renault performance has been one of 2010's great pluses.
Okay, let's not get too carried away. It's not been earth-shattering but it's been significantly better than many were predicting at the back end of last year. After the first four races they have 46 points on the board, only 12 fewer than Mercedes and 28 clear of Force India among the mid-grid battlers. The elements may have helped but Robert Kubica has repeatedly troubled the big boys rather than occupying his projected station in the midfield.
Renault is on its way up again © LAT
Late last year I asked Daniele Morelli, Robert Kubica's manager, how things were looking for 2010 after it became known that BMW was withdrawing and all sorts of rumours were flying about Renault in the aftermath of 'Crashgate.' Morelli smiled, blew out his cheeks and gave one of those wide, expansive 'who knows...' shrugs.
You had to worry about Renault's immediate future. The manufacturers were dropping like flies and the Regie, of course, not only had a works team but supplied engines to a team that was winning races. If they knocked it all on the head there was going to be serious implications for the paddock.