In an interview with the media today, Renault Sport boss Cyril Abiteboul has stated that the 2016 season will be “transitional” year for the manufacturer as they get to grips with being a works team in the sport once again.
As we already know for the 2016 season, Renault will return as a fully fledged manufacturer after a takeover of the Lotus team. This was confirmed after Renault signed a letter of intent before the end of the season to buy back a controlling stake in the Lotus F1 team and that deal was completed just before Christmas.
At a time when Formula One appears in crisis with engine manufacturers Ferrari and Mercedes dominating the sport, news of Renault’s exit would have hurt the sport immeasurably. But in his interview with the media today, Abiteboul has stated that the expectation levels for 2016 are low for Renault. Abiteboul stated the following:-
‘The target for next year, it is not just about scoring points in the championship. If that is your question, we need to be humble in our expectations for next year.’
I think Abiteboul is right to state what he has as let’s face it they have a lot of ground to cover to even think about competing with Ferrari and Mercedes and the first step of that is building a solid foundation for the team to plan and build on for the future.
Further on in his interview with the media today, Abiteboul has also stated that integrating the business will have to be one of the first steps with the chassis base in Enstone and the engine base in Viry-Chatillon near Paris. Abiteboul added the following:-
‘There are many things that we want to do well next year, starting with the structure, How well do we integrate the structure? How do we integrate the people, the organisation? How do we put in place the links between the two entities? The culture, the mindset? How do we start catching up properly on the engine?’
Abiteboul is right with what he says as after all, if cannot get everyone working on the same page and to the same goals; what is the purpose of Renault being there? That has to be a key element for Renault next season as without this; they will not get back to competitive ways and also they will remain in the position that they are in now.
With reports in the paddock have suggested that former Mercedes and Renault technical director Bob Bell has already unofficially been overseeing the integration of engine and chassis departments. Meanwhile, British engine builder Ilmor, who will be working with Red Bull Racing on their newly branded Tag engines [which will remain Renault’s in all but name] will also work with Renault to enhance its power-unit development.
When asked about this subject further today, Abiteboul stated the following about this:-
‘We have been very successful in F1 with Red Bull, we have been successful as a competitive team before and, from a marketing stand point and connection between F1 and the rest of the business, we have never been so strong. That is really important, as that is what will give us the stability so that we have the capacity – the financial capacity and also the time – to become one of the big boys.’
It is clear from what Abiteboul has stated in his interview today that even though 2016 will be a year for Renault to get to grips once again with running their own team and making sure that they have everything they need in place to be competitive, it will be tough for them. With their history in the sport, they have shown that they have got what it takes to win in the sport and be successful.
But what they need to remember is that they will have to take the adequate time and preparation to get there and make sure that the team gets to that position as quickly as possible and try and start their first season in 2016 the best possible way; even if expectations are rightly in my view low.