Cyril Abiteboul thinks formula one needs to change. The Frenchman is at charge at the Renault works team, who are targeting fourth place in the constructors' championship this year behind the 'big three'.
"We are starting with a conservative approach," he told Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The focus is on reliability, which is important because we have a completely different car with a new gearbox, suspension and so on. A huge jump," Abiteboul added. "Last year, we improved from ninth place to sixth, so we need to continue."
On the engine front, Renault was behind Mercedes and Ferrari last year but it is believed the French marque as well as Honda are catching up. "We are on course for our goals in terms of reliability and performance," said Abiteboul. "But that's just a starting point."
He said 'partners' Red Bull and McLaren will have identical equipment in 2018, but warned that Renault might need to focus more on itself beyond 2020. "We consider Red Bull and McLaren as partners, not customers," he said. "We guarantee that everyone is treated the same. But this is something we could think about when it comes to the new engine generation for 2021."
Red Bull could already be dropped as a Renault customer by 2019, Abiteboul admitted. "It's too early to say that, but I just underline one thing -- there was not a season without intensive discussions with them, and yet we are together 12 years later. I am not saying that we will be in 2019 as well, but we want clarity on that cooperation as soon as possible," he said.
As for F1 more generally, 40-year-old Abiteboul wants changes. "It cannot go on like this," he said. "It cannot be that we already know the name of the world champion before the season. That is not healthy and serves no one. So we need to work closely with Liberty Media but also with Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, and so forth to make changes."
"But we must do so without damaging the DNA of formula one. The perception in the public has changed and the recipe of yesteryear no longer works in a world that constantly changes. Now the focus must be on sport, not technology," Abiteboul added. (GMM)
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