Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that the news that Daniel Ricciardo had signed with the team for 2019 received an amazing welcome at its factories in Enstone and Viry. The Australian made headlines in August when he confirmed the move after announcing his Red Bull departure.
Ricciardo was expected to sign an extension with the energy drink squad, but instead opted for the new challenge. He will partner Nico Hulkenberg at the team, who enters his third year with the French manufacturer.
Abiteboul says that the when the news was announced at the factories, it gave the employees a boost - and added that the reaction reminded him of the titles with Fernando Alonso in the mid-2000s.
"It was obviously a huge relief, fantastic news – and the way it was welcomed in the factories at Viry and Enstone was just amazing," Abiteboul told Autosport. "I was expecting something, but nothing in relation to what I have been able to witness.
"It was a fantastic moment. I have never seen a reaction like that in either of the two factories. It was reminding me of the titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006. We have not won anything, but there is this feeling that now we are really on a trajectory to be able to win something.
With Renault resurging towards the front of the grid, Abiteboul hopes that the team can deliver what Ricciardo wants: "We really feel now this obligation to come up with an engine and a chassis that will be capable of giving what that guy deserves.
"We feel more obliged towards Renault, towards our sponsors, towards our fans, towards the legacy of the Renault brand in motorsport, because I don't want to look at disappointment or frustration in his eyes over the next two years," explained the Frenchman. I don't want to feel what McLaren must have felt with Fernando over the past few years."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing