Renault Sport F1 Team boss Cyril Abiteboul has praised his outfit’s driver development programme, suggesting its influence helped secure seats for Sergey Sirotkin and Robert Kubica at Williams Martini Racing in 2018.
Williams has ended months of speculation as to who would line up alongside Lance Stroll for 2018, with Sirotkin getting the nod over Kubica, the Pole taking the role of test and reserve driver.
Speaking to crash.net at the Renault Sport Academy launch, Abiteboul takes Williams’ interest in the French manufacturer’s former drivers as a compliment. He also has faith that Sirotkin and Kubica’s performance in their new roles will reflect kindly on their development at Renault.
“If you think about the Williams situation we had some connection to the two possible options Robert and Sergey from 2017,” Abiteboul said.
“I’m happy to see drivers we had connections with and those that we contributed to raising their profile and raising their skills which has created opportunities to drive for another team.
“For Sergey, it shows Renault can influence the life of a driver and then if they can make it into Formula 1 I will be extremely happy because we were very impressed as a team by his ability to understand the car and the dynamics of the car as well as developing the car as it was his role with testing opportunities.
“He certainly has the knowledge and in my opinion also the talent.
“For Robert, I hope he finds a programme that is adequate with his ambitions and his abilities.”
It was initially believed that Kubica was in the frame for a 2018 race seat with Renault – where Sirotkin had been serving as test and reserve driver – before the team took up the option to hire Carlos Sainz Jr. on loan for Red Bull. Speculation now remains over whether his current deal with Williams could see Kubica make his racing comeback in 2019.