Renault would have been in a stronger position if McLaren had accepted its proposal for close collaboration from 2021 onwards but can still benefit from its departure, according to managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
McLaren announced last weekend that it would be returning to Mercedes power in 2021 at the end of its Renault power unit supply deal, leaving the French manufacturer with no customer team. Abiteboul had proposed a closer collaboration with McLaren if they kept working together in future, but after that idea was rejected he admits he sees it as a missed opportunity for his team.
“I think we would have been stronger together on the basis of our approach to the partnership,” Abiteboul (pictured in center, above) said. “So obviously without that we are weaker than what we could have been and it’s a lost opportunity, but it’s not like it’s something that is putting us massively in a different position to the position we are in today.
“Right now there is nothing happening between us and McLaren on these types of things, so there is no change and there is no improvement, but there is no degradation either. We just need to get our act together and keep on working in the usual way. Except that what we are proposing to McLaren was a bit unusual, a bit more open-minded about the way teams can cooperate.
“We have got the fantastic model of Haas and Ferrari and apparently they have managed to make it work again, and it was just a different model of collaboration between two teams. So it was a lost opportunity, but we also know what we have to do and we are completely geared up to be capable of walking as a standalone team in all aspects.”
Abiteboul believes Renault will actually benefit in some ways from being able to focus on power unit development solely for its works team and not having to consider the needs of any customers.
“That is one of the positives and maybe negatives in our position as an engine supplier: we always want to listen to everyone. But by doing that we sort of dilute the focus from the works team. And we do that because we have always done that — and I frankly have had clashes with my engineering people because of the way they want to deal with customer teams.
“So not having to deal with any customers simplifies things a lot because you just focus on yourself and that’s it. Also, thinking about dissemination of IP, if we were staying with McLaren I would have had to disclose the external envelope of the engine in the next few weeks, which frankly is not something I want to do if I have no reason to do it.”