Renault to hold out on deciding Ricciardo replacement

Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul says the French outfit will exert patience when it comes to deciding who will replace McLaren-bound Daniel Ricciardo for 2021.

The Australian driver’s pre-announced departure from his current team has sparked a round of speculation regarding the identity of the driver that will race alongside Esteban Ocon from next year.

Potential nominees include Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, while Valtteri Bottas has also be mentioned as a possible option for the Enstone squad.

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But Abiteboul insists no decisions will be forthcoming until the 2020 season kicks into gear.

“We’ve not done a race, we’ve not done even a session,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com. “We’ve [just] done the winter test.

“Our performance was encouraging, but it’s just winter testing, and frankly, as I’m speaking, I don’t know the competitiveness of our car. We all have our analysis but until we’ve done a proper qualifying run we don’t know.”

While potential suitors for the Renault seat are likely also keen to gauge the team’s level of competitiveness, Abiteboul insists a deferred decision is first and foremost about proper resource allocation.

©Renault

“Typically the competitiveness of the car is a representation of the competitiveness of the team and the new people that we have,” he added.

“Therefore the priorities of where we want to put our money is an indication that I want to have before I rush any decision.

“Our position is more a position about taking the time to be properly informed, to make sure that we make the right decision, because probably the next decision on drivers will be an important one and most probably the driver who will join us for 2021 will stay for 2022.”

Regarding Ricciardo’s departure, Abiteboul lamented the Aussie’s decision, highlighting the team’s need for stability while also noting McLaren and Ferrari’s intense “activism” during F1’s hiatus.

“I’m a bit disappointed because I don’t think that you can build anything without stability,” said the Frenchman.

“That goes for drivers, but frankly that’s also true for the rest of the organisation.

“We had a lot of changes last year: 70% of our staff have seen a change of management or structure to their department.

“A new technical director, new head of aero, new engineering director. All of that has happened in the last 12 months with lots of change.

“I would have liked to see that result of that, because we know that there is a bit of latency, before going into the action of a driver change and driver discussion.

“And then I’m a bit surprised about the activism of two particular F1 teams, who have pushed Daniel to sort of rush the decision.

“We decided not to bend over this timing and to stick to our plan. Our plan and our priority is to make a better car.

“The new regulation, the new deal [rules], have been our priority. Securing the future of F1 has been our priority. He’s made his decision, we’re moving on.”

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