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.”