Prior to the season, Renault F1 team had set the goal for the 2019 season at fourth place in the World Championship, a target almost certainly unachieved for this Formula 1 season.
But that will probably not be achieved. Two races before the end they are 38 points behind McLaren. Under normal circumstances, this challenge would be considered to be possible to close such a gap. Team boss Cyril Abiteboul stresses, however, that 2019 was not a completely lost season for Renault.
“There were different goals,” he reminded Motorsport-Total.com, explaining:
“One was to close the gap to the top and another was to consolidate fourth place [in the World Championship].”. Further, the Frenchman seems to try and dress up the failing of the team to beat McLaren by saying:
“It doesn’t look like we’ll be back in fourth place. But if you look at the gap to the top teams, we’ve made it.”
It is worth noting at this point that in 2018 Renault had finished the world championship in fourth place. So an interesting argument from something that appears more a backward step.
“Last year, we [in Austin] were more than two seconds away from pole. Now it’s 1.4 seconds. So it’s getting less,” says Abiteboul. “That may be partly due to the rules, but it’s partly due to progress. There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” he says confidently.
But it’s also clear that even 1.4 seconds behind is still far too much for the corporate board and bosses at Renault who are funding Cyril Abiteboul’s F1 odyssey.
“It’s tough,” admits Abiteboul, “Formula 1 poses a challenge for all of us – together and individually. But I’m confident that we’ll be able to turn the situation around. And when it happens, it’ll be all the nicer.”
It is said that further restructuring and developments are afoot at the Renault F1 team, for example, Dirk de Beer was recently hired as the new aerodynamics manager and Pat Fry was hired for technical management.
One of the decisive factors for these personnel changes was the home race in France. According to Abiteboul, this should have been a “milestone” for Renault. “There should be some improvements. But it didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” he recalls.
Because the big update for the R.S.19 didn’t work as planned, it was a “difficult time” for Renault afterwards.
“Before the summer, I knew that the season would be long and hard,” admits Abiteboul. It was also clear that the situation would not improve overnight. Because in Formula 1 decisions are not immediately visible. Case in point, McLaren.
“Sometimes there is a difference between what happens behind the scenes and what people see,” says Abiteboul. “You can’t forget the contractual situation of some people either. They have a two or three year contract. So if you want them, you have to wait or go another way,” he explains.
At the same time, the team manager makes it clear that Renault didn’t make any quick decisions.
“When you announce a restructuring in the aero department, you’ve been working on it for weeks,” he says, assuring that he himself sees progress at Renault. In 2020, however, these must also be reflected in the results, otherwise it’s not a stretch to see the Renault corporate paymasters pulling the financial plug on Cyril’s little team.