Hyundai have announced that they hired 45-year-old former Caterham and Renault F1 boss, Cyril Abiteboul.
“Cyril’s experience in Formula One will help us to explore new opportunities for growth and improvements as we look to mount a more intensive fight for titles in WRC and to support our customer racing teams,” said Hyundai Motorsport president Sean Kim in a statement.
Now it’s an interesting move as Cyril isn’t known for his WRC Rally chops but when he moved into the role as team boss for Caterham, he didn’t have much experience as an F1 manager either.
I recall when Caterham announced Cyril’s appointment, I was a bit surprised if I’m honest because if memory serves correctly, he graduated college and was working for Renault managing their website and working on business development efforts for the team. That’s not a rush history of running junior racing teams etc.
Now admittedly there have been team bosses with even less experience like Finbarr O’Connell who was an Irish accountant and insolvency specialist thrust into the role of team boss after Cyril and Caterham tanked.
When Renault announced his appointment, I was very surprised and was wondering if he was fit for purpose at a team with such heavy expectations. Ultimately I think I was correct in my concern because Renault never made the progress one would expect a works team to make.
Some journalists are connecting dots with Abiteboul’s appointment at Hyundai saying that the Korean company has an interest in joining F1 and while I’ve not seen anything suggesting that from Hyundai itself, they do suggest that Abiteboul will help them in their motorsport activities.
Let me just say the up front. I could be completely wrong but if Hyundai is interested in joining F1, I do not think Cyril is the guy to lead them to those waters. I think Hyundai would be much better served to enter F1 with Williams or Haas F1 as a works partner and majority owner of the team.
F1 is a fiercely complex series and starting from the ground up as a works team is very difficult. I’ve not seen the kind of leadership from Abiteboul that is required to make something as monumental as that happen. As I say, I could be wrong and I would be elated if I was for Hyundai’s sake but after being screwed over by Hyundai personally (after owning three of their cars), let’s just say I was happy for Toyota in WRC and wouldn’t miss Hyundai’s presence in F1 at all.