Abiteboul on Fry Arrival: “We were a bit weak in technical leadership”

by Paul Hensby

A lack of technical leadership pushed the Renault F1 Team to make changes, including the acquisition of Pat Fry, according to Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul.

In the wake of a poor showing in their home Grand Prix in France in June, where a major update failed to deliver the performance improvements Renault were hoping for, a review of the structure of their technical department was sought, and following the conclusion of the season, the reshuffle took place that included the departure of Nick Chester and the arrival of veteran Fry in a senior role.

Abiteboul says there has been a least fifteen million pounds of investment at Renault, but there needed to be someone in a senior position to give some energy to the technical team, which is one of the major reasons why Fry was recruited.

“It looks like we were missing something in the technical leadership of the team, in the ability to pull all the resources that we put together,” said Abiteboul to Motorsport.com.  “We talk a lot about figures, and headline numbers like 750 people in Enstone now.

“It’s huge, and there has been lots of investments: £15 million of investment.  But you know, all of that needs to be driven by a force. And I felt that, and we felt that, we were a bit weak in technical leadership. Therefore, that led to the recruitment of Pat.”

French Grand Prix Update Failure Opened Door for McLaren

Abiteboul says the French Grand Prix update, which they had hoped would propel them to the front of the ultra-competitive midfield battle, pinpointed a major concept flaw that was unsolvable during the campaign.

He felt it gave the McLaren F1 Team the opening they needed to take fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, with Renault ultimately being forced to settle for fifth, just ahead of Scuderia Toro Rosso.

“When we were expecting to bring the car to the next level, it didn’t really work,” said Abiteboul. “So we discovered that there was a sort of limit for the development of the car given the choices that were made in terms of overall philosophy. 

“That was the story of the second part of the season. It was more difficult, and being out-developed by teams around us. Plus McLaren, to start with, benefiting from progress we had made on the engine, and the progress that we kept on coming in the course of the season.”

The upgrade bought to the French Grand Prix failed to deliver the performance boost Renault were hoping for – Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

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