Cyril Abiteboul says the Renault Sport Formula One Team is already looking at alternative drivers for the 2019 Formula 1 season, should Carlos Sainz Jr. be recalled by his parent team to race for the Aston Martin Red Bull Racing team.
The Spaniard is on-loan to the Enstone-based team for 2018 and secured his best result of the season during Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix by finishing fifth, but Abiteboul, Renault’s managing director, says it could be a possibility they will lose Sainz for next season, particularly if Daniel Ricciardo opts to depart Red Bull for either Scuderia Ferrari or Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport.
“We need to make plans, we need to be prepared for the worst as always,” Abiteboul said to Reuters. “So the worst for us would be that we would want to stay with Carlos and that’s not possible.
“And it can happen, let’s be honest. So we need to plan accordingly.”
With the design work of Renault’s 2019 challenger already underway, Abiteboul hopes Sainz can aid its development and be an integral part of the team’s driver line-up alongside Nico Hülkenberg for next season.
“We already actually started to work on next year’s car, we had a meeting this week with him to talk about the plan for next year, the objectives and also… the early concept of the 2019 car,” said Abiteboul.
“It’s a clear sign we are not thinking that, in the back of our mind, he may not be with us. It may happen, but we don’t want to compromise short-term or middle-term performance by starting to mitigate the way we are working with him.”