I was reading an article over at Autosport today regarding Renault, Daniel Ricciardo’s departure and the frustration that caused Cyril Abiteboul. For a host of reasons, I can understand Cyril’s frustration. Chief among them is that Dan is a hell of a race car driver and it’s not easy to lose that kind of talent.
As Cyril stated, part of his frustration was because he knew the team were making the right moves and advancing and we’ve seen those improvements this years. Cyril said:
“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 Autosport.
“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.
“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’s 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.”
I don’t know Cyril but he seems to be a very blunt person. His comments are normally direct, to the point and replete with a boxspring and mattress to hold up lofty words that provide a modicum of smoke in which to screen or obscure the listeners view to the bluntness of his statement. Fair enough, I appreciate a straight answer.
Before discussing the final part of his quote, I would like to suggest that he’s right in that I think the team is slowly making progress toward the sharp end of the grid. It hasn’t happened as fast as I would have hoped and I am sure Cyril could say the same thing as would the Renault CEO.
Regardless, it takes time to build a title-winning team. Red Bull took several years. Mercedes took several years, Ferrari took several years and so will Renault. As a matter of fact, it took Renault several years before it won the title in 2005.
The second part of his quote is interesting.
“It’s really true that when you change driver, you make 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 make steps forward.”
I’m going to challenge this on two levels. First, he is replacing Dan with arguably one of the best drivers in Formula 1, Fernando Alonso. Fernando is no slow study. He will be on top of that car quickly and I don’t think the team will miss many beats by picking Fernando as a replacement for Dan.
The second point is around stability and I think this could be seen as speaking from both sides on one’s mouth. They had stability in Nico Hulkenberg and yet they let him go. Nico had a few bobbles along the way but dumping him for Esteban Ocon isn’t a stability move.
Had they kept Nico, they would still have stability at that team but they chose otherwise. Still, Fernando will bring some experience but I am curious to see what kind of stability he brings to the team.