Renault Sport Formula 1 Team managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that the team’s aim for the 2019 Formula 1 season is to carry the momentum it has built up over the last three years.
Renault has improved its performance year-on-year following a low-key return to life a works team in 2016, finishing sixth in the Constructors’ Championship in ’17 and further improving to fourth in ’18.
The French marque has undergone huge changes to its bases in Enstone and Viry-Châtillon in a bid to accelerate its development ahead of “three years of attack” on the championship title.
Abiteboul said at the Enstone launch of the R.S.19 that the redevelopment, that included an upgrade to its wind tunnel, gearbox dyno, design office and operations room, was tricky to uphold alongside the fight with the Haas F1 Team for fourth place last season.
“Launching all these projects while participating in the championship was an incredible challenge,” Abiteboul said. “As was getting the major points finished.
“The final commissioning of the investments was a tremendous achievement and I’m impressed by how everyone has taken to the task.
“This shows in the momentum we have gathered: ninth in 2016 with eight points, sixth in 2017 with 57 points and fourth last year with 122 points. We go into this season aiming to keep this strong and measured momentum.”
Abiteboul said that the number of points achieved and its finishing position in the Constructors’ Championship will not be the sole barometers of performance in 2019, emphasising the need for Renault to continue its upwards trajectory.
To aid the cause, Renault Sport has delivered a rebuilt engine for ’19 after reaching a plateau with development of the old-spec power unit.
“We do not target x or y position or a number of points: what I want to see is that the team continues its trajectory of progression towards the top teams,” Abiteboul continued.
“Engine excellency will be our priority in Viry while the structure now in place in Enstone strives to improve the competitiveness of the chassis, season after season.”
The signing of Daniel Ricciardo from Aston Martin Red Bull Racing has further improved the side, with team-mate Nico Hülkenberg entering a crucial last year in his contract. Abiteboul is confident that Renault now hold “one of the strongest” driver partnerships on the grid.
“The added momentum of the Daniel-Nico partnership brings confidence to the team this season.
“Daniel brings proven race winning experience and knowledge of a top team, while Nico is hungry. He’s hugely underrated – he’s quick, determined and a team motivator.
“Individually they are very strong and I feel the two will complement each other extremely perfectly. The energy they have brought to the team is very tangible and I hope we can give them a car to show their considerable talent.”