Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul says he is delighted to see two drivers with close ties to Enstone get a career boost in F1.
Sergey Sirotkin made six Friday free practice appearances with Renault in 2016 and 2017. He’s now been confirmed as Williams’ full-time driver for 2018 in place of Felipe Massa.
And Robert Kubica began his F1 comeback bid with a test for Renault last summer. The Pole has now been announced as taking up a reserve and development role with Williams.
“We had some connection to the two possible options Robert and Sergey from 2017,” Abiteboul said at the Renault Sport Academy launch on Monday.
“I’m happy to see drivers we had connections with,” he said. “And those that we contributed to raising their profile and raising their skills.
Abiteboul said that both drivers’ time with Renault helped lead to their 2018 opportunities.
“For Sergey, it shows Renault can influence the life of a driver and then if they can make it into Formula 1,” he said.
“We were very impressed as a team by his ability to understand the car and the dynamics of the car,” he said. “He certainly has the knowledge and in my opinion also the talent.”
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As for Kubica, Abiteboul said that he hoped Williams would be able to find him “a programme that is adequate with his ambitions and his abilities.”
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Despite considering both Sirotkin and Kubica for race seats in 2018, Renault eventually went another way. A complex multi-team deal on engine supplies secured them the services of Carlos Sainz instead.
Abiteboul said last month that he had no regrets about the decision.
“[Sainz] has clearly brought lots of energy,” he said. “He’s brought his motivation, his willingness to continue to progress and to continue to show what he’s capable of.
“He’s shown some very useful directions for the development for next year, because he’s coming from a different environment. He was capable of bringing some ideas, suggestions.
“That’s very useful, and we are happy to have made that decision.”
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