Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul expects the team’s future Formula 1 drivers to come from its young driver academy, and targets one becoming world champion.
Since returning to F1 as a constructor in 2016, Renault has supported a number of drivers via its Renault Sport Academy. Of the current members, third and reserve driver Jack Aitken raced in Formula 2 for the first time while affiliate driver Anthoine Hubert won the GP3 Series, and Max Fewtrell took the Formula Renault Eurocup title ahead of fellow Renault youngster Christian Lundgaard. Although this year Renault signed Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull to join Nico Hulkenberg, Abiteboul wants to be promoting drivers from the academy to F1 in future.
“It’s been pleasing to see excellent results from the 2018 crop of Renault Sport Academy Drivers; a good reward for a lot of hard work and preparation behind the scenes,” Abiteboul said.
“Developing a competitive Formula 1 package is one thing, but ensuring the most talented drivers are in the cockpit is also a critical ingredient and something Renault very much buys into. The young drivers currently coming through the doors at Enstone are the ones we expect to be in the race seats in the near future.
“There is still a bit of time before we see the team and young drivers fighting for world championships, but the Academy is always discovering new ways to progress and grow stronger.
“We have been satisfied overall with what we’ve seen this season and how this success exemplifies the young driver ladder, which Renault has set out.”
Abiteboul says no final decisions have been made regarding the future academy members, with 23-year-old Aitken having struggled to 11th in the F2 championship while ART teammate George Russell took the title.
“In the coming weeks and months, plans will take shape for 2019 and beyond. Decisions will be made as to who will drive in the black and yellow junior colors next season but, at this moment, the distant objective remains unchanged: Renault targets an Academy driver as a future Formula 1 world champion.”