Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul is targeting steady progression from his team in 2019 rather than aiming to completely bridge the gap to the top three.
Between them, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull won all 21 races this season as well as all but one of the podium positions, with only Sergio Perez’s third place for Force India in Baku preventing a complete lock-out. Renault finished fourth in the constructors’ championship but was nearly 300 points adrift of third-placed Red Bull, and Abiteboul says the aim for 2019 is to move closer to the level of those three teams.
“We know that obviously the further you go the bigger the steps, and the more demanding they will be,” Abiteboul said. “We would like to see, for instance, bridging the gap closer to the top teams in qualifying, in races, not being lapped, in terms of points scoring, so this is the type of target that we will announce at the start of next season.”
As part of its attempts to close the gap, Renault has signed Daniel Ricciardo to partner Nico Hulkenberg next year, and Abiteboul hopes the Australian will be a positive influence off-track as well as on it.
“You need to expect from us that we keep on progressing and completing the construction of the team, and we expect Daniel to play a key role in that, just like he played a key role in Red Bull’s drive, in our opinion, on-track but also off-track, because we also feel that we need someone to embody that charge.
“Nico’s doing extremely well as a driver so I also look forward to that line-up to really properly represent the efforts and the ambitions of Renault in that new cycle.”
Hulkenberg himself shares Abiteboul’s expectations, saying he hopes to be consistently closer to the fastest car in 2019.
“The general global picture from sixth last year to fourth is good progress,” Hulkenberg said. “But of course, that’s not enough. We want more. We want to get better and faster. There are a lot of positives that happened this year, which we got stronger and better at, but still some areas we really need to focus and work on.
“The ambition is to be more consistent on every track next year and to be competitive throughout regardless of the track characteristics.”