F 1

Renault aim to close gap with top teams, says team principal Abiteboul

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on November 30, 2019
Renault's driver Daniel Ricciardo steers his car during the qualifying session at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Saturday. - AFP

Abiteboul is satisfied with the season and said the team are on a ramp up.

Renault, so far the fifth-place team this Formula One season, will aim to bridge gap with top teams like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, said team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Even as the French manufacturer faces tough resistance from Toro Rosso, Abiteboul is confident his drivers Daniel Ricciardo (eighth in Saturday's qualifying) and Nico Hulkenberg (10th) will deliver the goods in Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

Abiteboul is satisfied with the season and said the team are on a ramp up. Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon will replace outgoing Hulkenberg.

"We are on a ramp up," Abiteboul said at the Yas Marina Circuit. He noted Renault have clinched P4 last year after being in the sixth spot in 2017 and ninth in 2016.

"The main difficulty will be not to stay P5 or P4 because we should not be content with that, but to bridge the gap with the top teams. That will be the next difficulty and the target for us. It's a target for 2021. Everything in our programme has been built around that long-term target of 2021 because, in accordance to our strategy, that's really the first opportunity to make that happen."

But before 2021, there is 2019, there is 2020. And there is a short-term result and a short-term pressure that everyone is putting on all of us. And that's fine. Again, that's part of the sport."

Even as his engine customers - McLaren and Red Bull - stay ahead of the curve, Abiteboul noted the recent 'restructuring'.

"We know what our engine is capable of doing. It is the engine that most progressed over the winter, right there, probably at the top in race conditions. So that's good, but obviously it's not enough. So we had to take action. We restructured the aerodynamic department. We recruited someone who actually is no stranger to probably the resurrection of McLaren - Pat Fry - and that will not stop there. I think that what matters is being able to constantly assess where we are strong and where we are weak."


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