Renault progress vindicates Abiteboul frustration at Ricciardo exit

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Renault's improved performance in 2020 has vindicated the frustration felt by team boss Cyril Abiteboul over Daniel Ricciardo's looming exit, he says.

It was back in May, just after Sebastian Vettel was confirmed as leaving Ferrari, that the Australian was announced as a McLaren driver for next season, replacing Carlos Sainz.

Ricciardo's decision came as a result of a disappointing first season at Renault last year following his move from Red Bull, while McLaren made big gains to finish fourth in the Constructors' Championship.

In 2020 though, the two teams have been very close with just seven points between them in the standings after the Russian Grand Prix in McLaren's favour.

And those gains, in Abiteboul's view, explain why he appeared to criticise Ricciardo in his first comments after Daniel's exit was confirmed.

"I think everyone has been able to feel the frustration, and my own frustration, when it was announced," the Frenchman said via

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"And let's be honest, I had the feeling that this [progress] was coming, that the team had made a step up and that the car would be better.

"Plus, that there was much more to come actually in the pipeline, that he [Ricciardo] had not driven yet.

"I knew the figures, but the problem was that it was only figures, and I know that he's been promised lots of things in the past not only by us, but also by his previous team.

"Daniel is very emotional but he has clearly made a step up. He has gained massively in confidence with the team and with the car, and the relationship between him and his race engineer is very, very strong. We see all of that, it's finally paying dividends."

Indeed, Ricciardo currently sits sixth in the Drivers' Championship just two points behind Lando Norris in fourth, this after only being outscored by the two Mercedes' in the last four races.

Still, next year Renault, which will be known as Alpine after a rebrand, is set to welcome back Fernando Alonso, with first preparations taking place last week.

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But while the talent of the two-time world champion is obvious, Abiteboul notes there will still be the initial dip as he settles back in, as has been seen with Esteban Ocon.

And that's why he's keen to create a line-up that will take Alpine forward into the new era of F1 from 2022.

"It's really true that when you change driver, you take a step back before making a step forward," he said.

"We see that this year, and it's something that we'd like to do in the future: to clearly bring stability because year one is always a bit of an investment before the years ahead.

"So we need to have longer stints with our drivers if want to take steps forward."