Formula 1

Abiteboul ‘Sorry but Not Sorry’ after End of Renault/Red Bull Partnership

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Cyril Abiteboul - Renault F1 Team - Abu Dhabi Grand Prix - Yas Marina Circuit
Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Renault F1 Team boss Cyril Abiteboul says he will not miss the public criticism that came their way from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing during the last few years of their partnership with the Milton Keynes-based outfit, particularly from Christian Horner and Helmut Marko.

The 2018 Formula 1 season marked the end of the Red Bull as a customer of Renault engines as they made the decision to switch to Honda-power from 2019, and whilst the relationship between team and engine supplier was good initially – they won four consecutive titles between 2010 and 2013 – the turbo hybrid era has seen a more troubled partnership as there was issues with both reliability and competitiveness.

Now while Abiteboul admits the engine situation has not been to the standard it needs to be, they are anticipating a much stronger power unit in 2019, but they will not have the negativity from Red Bull coming their way.

“One of the reasons why we are sorry but not sorry to stop the relationship with Red Bull is simply because Red Bull was controlling our communication and we had to react,” said Abiteboul to Motorsport.com.  “It was not on a level of playing field, because Red Bull is so much more powerful than us from a communication standpoint.

“We were constantly on the back foot and, on many occasions, it was a communication that was suiting their purpose. And we are in a world where unfortunately the noise and communication is becoming a reality.

“Let’s be clear: our engine situation is still not where it needs to be but it is not as bad as maybe it looks from afar, and I can tell you it will be much better next year.”

Whilst the love affair with Red Bull was more often than not a fraught one, Abiteboul says there were definitely some positives to take away from the relationship as it gave Renault the opportunity to gauge the progress of its own car, something they will not be able to rely on in 2019.

“There were some upsides with that relationship with Red Bull,” said Abiteboul. “And frankly if the story was to be written again, I would not change a word.  I think it was great to have Red Bull in the last three years, which were really the years of start-up of our own works team, because that team was capable of showing what the engine was capable of doing, for both the good and the bad.

“That is really clearly something that has avoided us a McLaren situation, where McLaren has unfortunately been under an illusion, and when the illusion stopped it hurts. We are under no illusion. We are not dreaming.

“We know exactly where we are with chassis and engine. But I think we are now mature enough in our understanding of our strengths and weaknesses to be able to lose Red Bull and focus, control our communication, control our image, control our spend, control our investment, and our development strategy.

“We are in control and being in control was one of the reasons we wanted to return as a works team.”

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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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