Former Renault F1 boss, Cyril Abiteboul, reveals he foresaw his downfall the day he hired Daniel Ricciardo, a decision that led to mixed outcomes for the team.
– In 2018, Ricciardo declined a contract renewal with Red Bull, opting for a change of pace with Renault.
– This move raised Renault’s profile but also highlighted their shortcomings, as they were far from matching Red Bull’s performance.
– Despite knowing Renault was years away from providing a car worthy of Ricciardo’s talent, Abiteboul couldn’t resist the opportunity to sign him.
– Abiteboul predicted that two years of underperformance with Ricciardo would reflect poorly on him, and he was right.
Ricciardo’s move to Renault was a high-profile one. It signaled the team’s ambition to compete with the big leagues, but also demoted Ricciardo to a midfield contender. Renault was still a work in progress, but Ricciardo seemed convinced that a year in the midfield was a small price to pay for potential future success.
However, Abiteboul had a different vision. He knew Renault’s timing was off and that the team was still a few years away from rolling out a car worthy of Ricciardo’s talent. Despite this, the opportunity to sign Ricciardo was too good to pass up.
Abiteboul had a sense of foreboding about the decision. He even celebrated Ricciardo’s transfer to Renault by toasting to his future dismissal. He knew that two years of underperformance with a driver of Ricciardo’s caliber would reflect poorly on him. And he was right.
Despite some progress in Renault’s 2020 campaign, with Ricciardo claiming a couple of podiums, Abiteboul’s days were numbered. In early 2021, following a decision to restructure the team under the Alpine banner, Abiteboul was let go.
He made his decision in April or May, the world is at a standstill [due to Covid], and we don’t know how we’re going to get back on track, or if we’re going to get back on track. In fact, I thought it was a very early move, a bit selfish, because in the end he only gave the team just one season’s chance, and so it’s true that it’s a decision that I took badly. Because I could see that it was a personal repudiation. I took it completely personally, I accepted it. But I could also see what the consequences were going to be.”