Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has admitted that the team never considered bringing in Fernando Alonso for 2019. Up until midway through the summer break, Alonso's future was up in the air as it wasn't known where he would be next season.
However, during August the Spaniard confirmed that he would be walking away from the sport after 17 years. At that point, Renault had established its seats for next year, announcing that Daniel Ricciardo would be joining from Red Bull.
Alonso previously raced for Renault from 2003 to 2006, picking up two world titles, before spending two more seasons with the team in 2008 and 2009. Despite making his decision to quit F1, Alonso claims he had multiple offers from different teams.
But when asked by Crash.net if Renault had made a move to bring him back for 2019, Abiteboul said: “Frankly, despite the fact that I have huge respect for Fernando, who is probably one of the best drivers in the world, the answer is no.
“We could feel that he is at the point in his career where he wants a car that is immediately capable of going in for wins. That’s what he’s expecting, or there is going to be more frustration. We are not in that position. We need to have drivers who can understand the project, who can buy into a support the project on a long-term basis. I don’t think this is what Fernando was looking for. So the short answer is no.”
Renault had lined-up Esteban Ocon for a 2019 seat before it swooped in for a late deal with Daniel Ricciardo. Abiteboul says that the team would have been happy with either outcome, as well as the possibility of Carlos Sainz extending his current deal.
"If you look at the three options that we had, I must say, doing more years with Carlos, going with Esteban, or Daniel, all three options were all very valid, and would almost have been equally satisfied with all three options,” Abiteboul said.
“Obviously Daniel has a bit of ‘wow’ effect, because it was not really what people were expecting. But we are not choosing our drivers just to create a wow effect for one day. The wow effect will come if we are capable of winning races together in the next two years.”
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing