Abiteboul confident Renault will see out commitment to F1

Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says a one-year delay of Formula 1’s new technical regulations won’t have a bearing on the French manufacturer’s commitment to the sport.

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In the face of the global coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact on F1, the sport’s 2021 technical overhaul has been delayed until 2022 to help teams absorb the financial shock of the crisis.

Renault was banking on next year’s regulations changes to help it bridge the gap with F1’s trio of front-runners: Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull.

The one-year delay was seen as a potential set back for Renault in its quest to improve its ranking, but Abiteboul insists the deferment won’t undermine his team’s plans in the longer term.

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“We’re living through the situation with a mixture of expectation and angst on the health side, and concern regarding the economic consequences,” Abiteboul told Auto-Hebdo.

“But we’re also not dispirited because we’re part of a sport that has great value and part of a group that is strong. That’s fortunate given the circumstances.

“A one-year delay won’t encourage us to change our position, although the extent of the crisis, which isn’t yet clear, could force a change.

“However, if we were to reach that stage, we wouldn’t be the only one in that case. Other teams, which I will not name, are more exposed than we are.”

Formula 1’s current crisis notwithstanding, Abiteboul is more focused on the longer term evolution of the sport and its ability to negate the current gap that exists between the top three teams and the rest of the field.

“If we were to find ourselves permanently – or rather sustainably – in a two-tier F1, then we could reconsider our involvement,” warned the Frenchman.

“But the combination of the three following elements – a cap on costs, revised technical regulations and new Concorde Agreement – tells us that we have the means to bridge the gap with the leaders. Assuming obviously that we do our job well.

“I don’t see any indication that we’re dumber than others, with all due respect to certain critics and commentators.

“The budget cap will be introduced next year with a lower limit. We’re still involved with the new Concorde Agreement for 2021. There is only one component, the technical regulations, that is delayed.

“You don’t reconsider your commitment to Formula 1, usually decided for a period of ten years, because of a crisis of this sort that leads to a one-year delay [of the new regs].”

Renault’s ambition of fighting for race wins in F1 is thus intact. But what about the team’s level of performance in next season’s transitory campaign, when everyone will rely on this year’s chassis with little scope for development?

“The objectives we had for 2021 are effectively pushed back by a year, I think everyone can understand that,” added Abiteboul.

“It doesn’t mean we won’t be trying to do a good job next year, and when I look at our development rate up until Melbourne, we can say that we have the ability to produce a decent car, despite what will be frozen in terms of aerodynamic development.

“There’s no major flaw in our car. We can continue to show a good level of performance and fight at the front of the midfield.

“That will be our target for 2021 before we head at full speed into 2022.”

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