Renault was “a bit blind,” admits Abiteboul

Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says that the company has “seen the light” and now understands what it has to do in order to catch rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

Abiteboul says that the works team is already in better shape than he anticipated at the end of last season, when the deal to take over Lotus was being finalised.

“Frankly if you had told me in Abu Dhabi at the end of November that we would be in this shape today I would definitely have signed for it,” he told this writer. “It’s a lot down to execution now. We know what we have to do, and we have to do it properly and carefully and in order.

“There is substantial work going on in every department back in France and also in Enstone. I think we know what we have to do. That is the big difference with before, I think before we were a bit blind, and now we’ve seen the light.”

Abiteboul says that the company staff are more motivated than when Renault was supplying customers, citing as an example how quickly new parts were sent from France to Barcelona after problems early in testing.

“We were capable of having a fantastic logistic chain and I would like to thank all those in Viry-Chatillon, because we managed to get parts from our dyno to the engine overnight.

“Even though we do all we can in order to honour our contracts, when you work for your factory team or you work for your customer, it’s different. In my opinion there’s this sort of extra bit that you can extract from your employees. This sort of extra effort that F1 commands, particularly with the current regulations.

“As a small example, on February 4th we had our drivers in the factory in Viry-Chatillon. It was the first time in a while that we had Renault drivers there. They are good blokes, Kevin and Jolyon, but at that stage they had done nothing. And I can tell you the buzz they created in the factory was amazing.

“Nothing against Sebastian Vettel for instance, we love Sebastian and all the things that we have done together. But a Renault driver is different, a Renault team is different, a Renault car is different. So in my opinion it’s going to give an extra boost of energy to everyone, so that we can do the job the way we should have done it.”

Abiteboul says that consultant Mario Ilien is having an impact: “He’s constantly in the loop, but not just Mario, Ilmor is giving us the ability to test even more solutions than we would without them.”

Despite the focus on the works team Abiteboul says it’s important to have Red Bull Racing also putting miles on the same power unit.

“Frankly it was not an obvious thing to do, after all the things we went through in the last two years, to continue the relationship with them. But I continue to believe it was the right thing to do for us strategically. Now we will have to see if it makes sense to continue that in the next few years. But as we have a big job to catch up right now, it makes complete sense, so I’m very happy with the continuity of that relationship.”

11 Comments

Filed under F1, F1 News, Grand Prix News

11 responses to “Renault was “a bit blind,” admits Abiteboul

  1. petes

    Mr Irritable must’ve struck Mr Ghosn on a day when he was feeling irritable too….Someone seems to have fired a rocket up his ares…..Long time coming!

  2. petes

    Meanwhile, on the sidebar, Mr Jakobi seems to have started at the top of the driver managment game, then faded. Badly.
    Hope he can recover and get Ferrucci in the F1 spotlight.

  3. DW

    And Christian Horner is sitting in his corner singing “Told you so … ” to himself …

    And all those that called Red Bull overly critical of Renault last season … wonder how many of them will step up and admit they were wrong?

    • GeorgeK

      And Horner and friends were perfect gentlemen in their unrelenting attacks on Renault? And their genius business approach in finding a new engine supplier ended up with? A Renault tagged with a sponsor name.
      BRILLIANT!

      Anyone with half a brain understands Renault dropped the ball, me and countless others were repelled by RB’s lack of acumen in their criticisms of Renault.

      • DW

        George, one can assume that RB only took things public once they got no joy from a ‘blind’ Renault who apparently were refusing to admit they were the problem … and were out of touch with what was needed to solve the problems – no doubt brought to their attention by RBR.

        It seems it’s now taken them a further 18 months and buying their own team to realise what they were being told all along …

        I would call RBR’s frustration with that attitude completely justifiable.

        If I get bad service & little joy from the company responsible, I take my complaint to Hellopeter … amazing how fast it get’s dealt with the.

  4. GeorgeK

    @DW, I’ll give you this much, for Abiteboul to drop this comment now is a bit disengenuos at best not to mention self serving.

    To me it reads like he’s making his excuses for poor performance before the first laps are run.
    The core of your comment is 100% spot on but seems to forget the context which spawned the breakdown.

    There is no doubt that RBR were victimized by Renault getting caught short by the engine change. BUT, they won 4 consecutive double titles with the same engine partners. “What have you done for me lately” in extremis, followed by their post season demanding of a top of the line PU from MB, then hat in hand begging from Ferrari and even Honda, for engines.

    After all their carrying on I’ll never be an admirer of RBR, and Matschitz & Co. should kiss the ground Renault walk on for their past successes as well as having an engine of any kind this year. RBR arrogance is only exceeded by their self proclaimed entitlement. They could take their two teams and the Hungaroring with them and leave, and this fan would be delighted.

    Apology in advance for the extended ramble and re-rant.

    • DW

      Why the assumption that RBR have Renault to thank for 4 titles?
      That era of F1 was heavily dependent on aero with engines playing a bit role probably even behind tyre choices. The more likely scenario is that Renault have RBR to thank for 4 titles.
      As for being caught short with the new regulations … I get the impression (from all the dirty laundry and now this confession by Renault) that the biggest issue wasn’t necessarily the fact that Renault was down on power, but rather their failure to do what was required and suggested by their teams to remedy the problem.
      To claim now that they have been blind, when all along RBR have been shouting “look here this is the problem” definitely points to arrogance … but certainly not on the part of RBR.

      As for entitlement … I believe 100% that RBR and any team competing in F1 SHOULD be entitled to a competitive engine and not have to settle for older or inferior equipment so that the manufacturers can maintain an advantage over any other team in the sport.

      And as far as the two Red Bull teams (and I’m assuming you meant the A1 / Red Bull Ring) leaving the sport … can you honestly tell me that F1 would be better off without them?
      They are the only teams bringing through competitive young blood and the only teams standing up to the manufacturers without selling their souls along the way (like Williams has), and one of very few teams reaching a younger audience,
      If they do leave and join either WEC or Formula E, expect to see a measurable drop in F1 figures and a reciprocal rise wherever they end up.

      • GeorgeK

        Have you read Herr Matschitz ‘ s latest claim that MB and Ferrari have too much power on and off track?

        Like MotoGP, F1 is now a mfg competition with a bunch of field fillers.
        Bernie gave it away when he agreed to the ’14 engine changes and he’s enlisted RBR as an ally in attempting to wrest control back.

        RBR pissed away their factory relationship and now are attempting to rewrite the engine rules to return to an age of independent teams that can win with any engine. That concept died years ago.

        Why did Renault buy back Lotus? Why did Honda come back? Because F1 is now a mfg series race, customer teams can’t win titles. And an independent engine will NEVER be accepted by the factory teams. There is a struggle for the soul of F1 going on, and I can’t see the factories losing.

        Dietrich has made a political decision to extricate himself from a bad situation of his own making by siding with Bernie in an attempt to what end? Rid the sport of MB and Ferrari? Good luck with that.

      • petes

        I just can’t get the banging on about ‘entitlement’.
        No team should be entitled by demanding….has never been that way in the history of the sport, so why should it be now?
        Any team wants a winning engine they should go after it, absolutely, just not by demanding that the power that be should provide it.
        Next weekend will provide a clue. At present I find it completely laughable that the team with clear access to sooo much money can’t pull themselves up. Take the McLaren TAG creation for example. Where did that come from if not by Ron and partners doing the deal?

      • peterg

        DW, I will meet you in the middle. RB should be applauded for their junior driver programme.

        In regard to their public slagging of Renault stemming from “frustration” they should take a lesson from Ron. Honda’s efforts last season were almost as bad as the performance he got in 95 when he hooked up with Mercedes. Not a word of negative finger pointing from Ron publicly.

        As for Materschitz walking away if he can’t win and get everything he wants? Williams have not been in the hunt since 03, but Frank has stayed in there plugging away for more than a decade……and yet you accuse them of selling their soul?

  5. Garagista

    Interesting article, but great conversation after. Petes, DW and GoergeK said all that I was thinking and very briefly summarised on Motorsport.com – before I think they pulled the article.
    Not enough praise for the conversation being a good read too.

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