“The car would be better”- Cyril Abiteboul talking about how frustrated Renault is amidst the departure of Daniel Ricciardo.
The move of Carlos Sainz to Ferrari soon led to a call up by McLaren for Daniel Ricciardo, with the Formula 1 team confessing their admiration for the Australian driver.
Undoubtedly, Ricciardo is hard to not love and his current team feels certainly terrible for losing him for next year and his team principal has tried to explain the frustration.
In a statement confirming the news of Ricciardo’s departure, Abiteboul said: “Reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment are, more than ever, critical values for a works team.”
While Ricciardo and Renault have put the matter behind them to challenge for podiums this season, Abiteboul says that he felt the way he did simply because he knew things were going to move forward in 2020 – but had no way of proving it at the time.
“I think everyone has been able to feel the frustration, and my own frustration when it was announced,” said Abiteboul, in an exclusive interview with the Motorsport.com.
“And let’s be honest. I had the feeling that this [progress] was coming, that the team had made a step up and that the car would be better.” he further said.
“Plus that there was much more to come actually in the pipeline, that he [Ricciardo] had not driven yet. I knew the figures, but the problem is that it only figures, and I know that he’s been promised lots of things in the past not only by us but also by his previous team.
“Daniel is very emotional but he has clearly made a step up. He has gained massively in confidence with the team and with the car, and the relationship between him and his race engineer is very, very strong. We see all of that, it’s finally paying dividends.”
What did Renault learn?
Abiteboul said one of the key lessons to take out of this year with Ricciardo is how it can take time for drivers to fully reach their potential with teams.
It means that Renault needs to be looking towards a more long-term commitment to its drivers, rather than making repeated changes. “It’s really true that when you change driver, you take a step back before making a step forward,” said Abiteboul.
“We see that this year, and it’s something that we’d like to do in the future: to clearly bring stability. Because year one is always a bit of an investment before the years ahead. So we need to have longer stints with our drivers if want to take steps forward.”
Renault has signed Fernando Alonso as a replacement for Ricciardo, in a multi-year deal that will take him at least until the end of 2022.