By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) - Renault Formula One driver Jolyon Palmer says he has torched his 'unlucky underpants' as he seeks a change of fortune in Hungary next week.
The luckless Briton endured a new low at his home grand prix last weekend, sidelined by a hydraulic problem on the formation lap after qualifying a promising 11th.
The 26-year-old has yet to score a point in 10 races this season, finishing 11th three times in his last five starts and eclipsed on the track by new German team mate Nico Hulkenberg.
Last year, his rookie season, he scored just one point.
"I have burnt the unlucky underpants, so they are now out of the way," Palmer said in a team preview for the Hungarian Grand Prix.
"I’m not superstitious, but you have to say this run of bad luck has to end."
There had been speculation even before Silverstone that Palmer could be replaced for the final race before the August holiday break, the rumors swiftly dismissed by Renault's F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul when he heard them.
"I made it clear to everyone that there was absolutely nothing true in that, and I told that to Jo directly," he told motorsport.com this week.
Abiteboul made clear on Friday, however, that he expected Palmer to end his barren run at the Hungaroring.
Renault, who celebrated their 40th anniversary in Formula One at Silverstone, are currently eighth in the 10 team championship but only three points behind Haas and seven behind Toro Rosso.
"We have shown at Silverstone that we are continuing to improve. Chassis developments, in particular the new floor, proved to be positive," said Abiteboul.
"It’s critical to back up this improvement with both cars finishing in the top 10 in Hungary -- we want to finish the first half of the season on a positive note.
"Our targets remain unchanged; we want to be sixth by the end of play on 30th July and fifth by the end of the season. A double-points finish is well within our reach," added the Frenchman.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)