Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul praised his former driver Daniel Ricciard for the positive impact he has had on the team over the last two seasons and wished him all the best in the continuation of his F1 career at McLaren.
After five years at Red Bull, Ricciardo switched to Renault before the start of 2019, and after a somewhat disappointing first season, the Australian took advantage of Renault’s improved car in 2020 and achieved two podiums.
Vettel’s departure from Ferrari spurred Sainz’s arrival at Maranello and opened a vacancy at McLaren for Ricciardo which enabled Alonso to return to Formula 1 with the team with which he won the championships in 2005 and 2006 and which will be called Alpine from 2021.
Abiteboul believes Ricciardo has given a lot to his team and has had a positive impact on the changes that have led them to improve their form and achieve better results.
“He gave a lot,” Abiteboul said about Ricciardo.
“First, as a driver he was exceptional, especially last year.”
“There’s no doubt about the team’s progress in 2020. It’s very much Daniel’s credit for clearly leading the team and the credit for the group of people behind him, the mechanics and engineers who did a great job on the track.”
“Off the track, we know Daniel is a great ambassador and team leader. He was instrumental in the changes we made in 2019 when we had a disappointing season.”
“When he joined the team we knew it would take a while, it was not a turnkey organisation, I remember those words I said to Daniel at the first meeting in 2018.”
“It wasn’t a turnkey organisation, but he had the impact and today we are a much stronger team from what we were two and a half years ago when we started this partnership.”
“In that respect, the partnership has delivered positively. The irony is that I believe we are a much stronger team now and that he will fight a much stronger Renault in 2021 and we will miss him, but we are glad he is in a great team and we look forward to fighting McLaren and Daniel. ”
Abiteboul confident in the current driving line-up
Ocon achieved his first podium finish in the second race in Bahrain in 2020 and with his performance he was much closer to Ricciardo in the last few races. Abiteboul believes Alonso will bring the necessary experience to the team they had with Ricciardo.
“We have a mix of experience with Fernando and his desire to come back, a very strong desire to get back into this sport,” Abiteboul said about Alonso.
“Fernando knows that the only way to win is to plan and build in advance and 2021 will be a special year in which we have to balance our efforts between 2021 and 2022.”
“He is clearly aiming for 2022 and understands that he will be fully part of that process and that journey.”
“On the other hand, we have Esteban who will be in his second season with the team.”
“We saw with Daniel what the benefits of the second season are compared to the first. I hope the podium in Sakhir will make him stronger and he will be better in 2021.”