Abiteboul: Ricciardo played key role in Renault’s F1 progress – F1


Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul believes Daniel Ricciardo’s podium at the Eifel Grand Prix reflects the positive contribution he has made to the team since he joined last season.

With Ricciardo securing the Enstone team’s first podium finish for five years with his charge to third place last weekend at the Nurburgring, Abiteboul also felt the result answered critics who have suggested that it was a mistake for the two parties to team up.

He also stressed the value of logging a podium together before they part company at the end of this season, when Ricciardo moves to McLaren, while Renault welcomes back Fernando Alonso in 2021.

“It’s equally important to the team, to Daniel, to myself also,” said Abiteboul. “We’ve been questioned about this decision of him joining us and also his decision of joining the team. So in both directions, really.

“I think it was very important for everyone to put the commentators at bay and show why it made sense at the time. Yes, it was disappointing last year, you could argue that it was one year too early.

“But you know, there are not that many opportunities to have a driver like Daniel, who was available on the market. So I still believe that it was the right thing to do at the time.”

Abiteboul said that a below par 2019 season and a push from proven race-winner Ricciardo has helped to move the team forward.

“The team wouldn’t be what it is today without Daniel, despite and maybe thanks also to the year that we had together last year, which was indeed a very painful year” he said.

“Which has pushed all of us, probably starting with myself, to take the measures that we’ve taken, and also with the team in Enstone with Marcin Budkowski and so on and so forth.

“So now we are finding ourselves in a much better position for this year and for next year, and Daniel is capable of doing this type of thing. I think it’s a statement.”

Abiteboul also referenced his own frustrated reaction after Ricciardo revealed in May that he was leaving to join McLaren in 2021.

The team boss commented about “reciprocated confidence, unity and commitment”, hinting that the Australian had not kept his side of the bargain.

“I know that our communication was a bit negative when we found out that he would not stay with the team at the time,” said Abiteboul.

“But I think that it’s precisely because it was an honest, emotional, unfiltered communication at the time that Daniel is also being unfiltered and genuine in what he’s doing today for the team.”