SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11: Renault Sport Racing Director Frederic Vasseur in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

This season may be seeing a few sad goodbyes, but there were also a few friendly hello’s, including the new All American team, HaasF1, the arrival of Max Verstappen and the return of the Renault Sport Formula One team. With Renault’s return came some more new faces in the sport, such as Jolyon Palmer and Team Principal Fred Vasseur.

While Vasseur may be new to the role as head of an F1 team, he is no stranger to the paddock after performing the same role for the ART GP squad and their GP2 and 3 teams.

Now, with one full season under his belt, he talks about how he has found the step up from GP2 to F1…

Are you surprised with how quickly the season has gone by?
In a certain sense yes, who knows where all the time goes! We’ve certainly been busy in 2016, not only has there been the normal challenges of a race season – and a very long one at that – but we’ve been making and implementing plans for the future. It’s one task after the next so you can really feel that time flies. The season has been a long one and I think that the entire paddock will be glad come Sunday night in Abu Dhabi!

What has been the story of your season?
There was a learning and discovery phase to start off with - getting to know people and their methods - and from this a feeling of mutual trust developed. The general atmosphere has been positive and very studious; we are working hard to progress and we are all focussed on the same objectives. Each week there is better collaboration and that’s an important aspect in the future success of the team. We’ve made real progress in 2016.

What have been your most memorable moments this season? What were the highs and lows?
Scoring our first points in Sochi was an important milestone for the team and also a relief. Jolyon’s first point was equally important because it was the result of his hard work and another step forward. At the end of the day, being regularly in a position to score is more important than one-offs and we’ve made decent progress to getting to that position.

Have the sporting results met our hopes this season?
Our on track performance has matched the reality of our competitiveness this season. At Enstone we’ve been very much in a re-construction phase, building the infrastructure and the R.S.16 was conceived very late relative to its opposition. On paper we knew that the season would be challenging, at the same time fate was in our own hands and early on in the season we decided to focus on 2017. That meant that the 2016 car had very little development and a big chunk of those developments were destined to look ahead at next year. That said, we are still racers so we pushed to be competitive wherever possible, it’s our blood; we wouldn’t have been able to have simply let go! It’s important to progress and to look at each detail that enables us to move forward with the factories or trackside.

What are your hopes for the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi?
I’d like us to continue to work seamlessly as a team and to use even the last race of the season to learn lessons for next year.

What’s the outlook for the future?
Progress. We’re excited about our new car and can’t wait to see it hit the track in February. We know our driver line-up: Jolyon is already part of the family and we look forward to be starting work with Nico at the end of his contract with Force India. I think that we have a strong line-up for what we need to achieve in 2017.

Any final words for Kevin?
We’d like to thank him for his efforts this year as we know it hasn’t been always the easiest. We’d love to see him end his final race for us in the points and we wish him well for the future as he is a very talented driver.