Cyril Abiteboul: The man with the F1 plan

Cyril Abiteboul: The man with the F1 plan
Abiteboul (right) with Fahim Choudhary, a UAE student studying at Lancaster University - the 2018 Middle East winner of the INFINITI Engineering Academy

By David Light

Published: Sat 15 Dec 2018, 3:38 PM

Last updated: Tue 18 Dec 2018, 7:18 PM

WHAT DOES IT take to run a successful Formula One team? Not only that, a racing group that would be first to admit must compete with others who appear to have had no ends of means with which to bring home the Constructors' Championship in recent years. If Managing Director of the Renault F1 Team, Cyril Abiteboul's management style is anything to go by - it is based around an intense degree of planning for the future.
Once the curtain fell on the 2018 Formula One World Championship in Abu Dhabi last month, Renault F1 Team claimed a highly respectable fourth spot among the constructors with 419 points. Counting the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull above them taking first, second and third on the podium respectively, this was no mean feat, but was expected as part of Renault's incremental improvement plan.
"In general it's 'Mission Accomplished,'" Abiteboul said when reflecting on the season at Yas Marina Circuit during the Grand Prix. "The main target was to keep progressing and we have done that. Last year we were fighting for sixth, so you can see."
The Renault head's calm, matter-of-fact demeanour, even in the midst of the final race of the season is a product of his 11 years in the sport. An engineer by trade, he joined the Renault automobile company in 2001, but moved into the motor sport wing six years later. Aside from a two-year stint at now defunct Caterham F1, he has been with the famed French brand for his career so far.        
"The main disappointment is that we have not managed to reduce the level of the gap between us and the top teams.
"The relentless arms race between the top teams. There is no limit to their spend and therefore their progression. For us, it is a challenge. We are careful on the return on investment."
Refreshing, considered, plain talk is not usually expected from a person in such an authoritative position, but this could be a result of where the boss' thoughts lay: 2021.
"Short term pressure and short term results are one side of the sport, but in many ways we are three years ahead. There will be so many changes in 2021 and the work has already started. We're working with Microsoft and the work is very virtual, but we're already going."
Renault F1's partnership with Microsoft, according to Abiteboul, gives them a competitive edge for the future.
"It's a USP of the team - technology and innovation.
"For performance - we generate tonnes of data after each run of the car on the track or in the wind tunnel, from which we need to extract maximum value. Microsoft helps us with that. It will help us build a car ready for that season and beyond."
This sentiment was mirrored by Keith Fenner, Dynamics 365 Business Group Director, Microsoft Middle East & Africa.
"More speed, means more innovation and staying ahead in the race of innovation is key to organisations like the Renault Formula One Team. It is really exciting to see how they have leveraged data and made the most out of solutions to bring everything together to gain an advantage on the racetrack. This is true digital transformation in action, and we are proud to support such journeys by enabling our customers to achieve more."
Roll on 2021. 

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