Renault had to increase its budget to be able to sign Daniel Ricciardo for 2019 but was happy to do so rather than make cuts elsewhere, says managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
Ricciardo made the surprise decision to leave Red Bull for Renault at the start of the summer break, turning down a new contract with his former team to sign for the French manufacturer. With Renault having been on a recruitment drive since returning to the sport ahead of the 2016 season, its budget has been increasing in parallel but Abiteboul says it had to make another step to bring in the Australian.
“First, in my opinion, Renault can afford pretty much anything,” Abiteboul said. “Renault is the largest car maker involved in Formula 1. So we can afford anything as long as it makes sense. Then it’s just a question of value for money and whether it makes sense to spend that given where we are in the development of our team.
Second, I don’t think we were the highest bidder in obtaining Daniel, without going into details. He bought into the project not necessarily because of the money. I don’t think it would be great to put this sort of light on Daniel.
“And lastly, it would not make any sense to bring a driver by having to make some concession on our capacity to finance the development of the engine or the chassis. So, in shorthand, obviously it means an increase of our budget.”
Abiteboul admits even he was surprised by Ricciardo’s decision and says it puts even greater pressure on the team to continue making progress next season.
“It came both as a surprise but also as a relief, because it’s positive news. It’s great news for Renault, for the team – but it’s also news that’s carrying not just emotions but also responsibility and some obligation to deliver. To deliver cars that are in line with his expectations, with his talent.
“We were already obliged to our shareholders, to our sponsors, to our fans, towards the legacy of Renault. Now we are also obliged towards him, and we want this charismatic driver to find what he’s come to find and to look for with our organization. So, we just have a bit more pressure – but it’s healthy pressure.”
Renault is currently fourth in the constructors’ championship, just six points clear of Haas and 156 adrift of Red Bull in third.