Alonso telling Renault to ‘forget about 2021’ – Abiteboul

2020 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso has told Renault to focus on the opportunity offered by the major rules change which will arrive in the second season of his return to the team, says managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

Formula 1 has delayed the introduction of sweeping new technical regulations from next year to 2022. Alonso has signed a two-year deal to return to Renault next season, but Abiteboul says he wants the team to concentrate on preparing for the year after.

“For him it’s all about 2022,” said Abiteboul. “He has almost no interest in 2021.

“He will be racing with us in 2021 so you could think that he has a vested interest in making sure that we are as competitive as we can. But actually he’s saying ‘you know what guys, forget about ’21’.

“It’s not that we are not going to be decent, but it’s all about ’22.”

Abiteboul hopes to emulate the success other teams have had in preparing for past changes in technical rules. Most notably Mercedes, which has won every championship since the V6 hybrid turbo engine formula was introduced in 2014.

“This sort of thinking, this sort of ability to plan ahead, this sort of experience that in Formula 1 you build success years in advance and by making sacrifice the years before, has happened every single time in the history of Formula 1,” said Abiteboul. “That’s the sort of philosophy that [Alonso] can bring in which is extremely helpful for me as a manager of the team, but for lots of people, bringing a little bit of it calm in the team is useful.”

“Fernando knows Formula 1 inside out, on track and off track,” Abiteboul added. “He’s got this capability in the building a plan meeting, building a strategy, not just for the race team but also for the whole Formula 1 programme.”

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46 comments on “Alonso telling Renault to ‘forget about 2021’ – Abiteboul”

  1. Whilst it’s good that Alonso is telling Renault to plan fully for the new regs, but Renault should have been doing this already.

    Is this a blunder by Cyril showing he has no long term planning skills or just a PR piece. If a PR piece not sure what it is meant to convey, other than Abiteboul not having much foresight.

    1. That is how it seems indeed. You would think development has already started on the 22 car, provided there is clarity on the regulations or at least on the majority of it

    2. On the PR angle: Lets elude criticism on our expected underperformance in ’21 by stating we are not focused on it.

    3. @captainpie Pretty sure all the teams had started work on the 2021 (now 2022) cars, so obviously Renault did not need to be told by FA to get a move on for 2022. Not sure why you would assume they had been sitting on their hands until FA spoke. Not only had they already started their project, they should be amongst the most stoked as a works team to have a fresh page to turn, with a chance to nail this car in a new F1 that will put more emphasis on the driver and will not be held back in dirty air.

      1. @robbie that’s kind of my point, surely a better response from Renault would be mentioning the agreement and synergy with Alonso’s mindset and plan, etc.

        I dunno, maybe this just rubbed me the wrong way?

        1. @captainpie It’s just that I’m thinking of this as FA letting them off the hook for next year, acknowledging the car isn’t near where it needs to be, and not worth excess effort. Abiteboul wouldn’t have been the one to say, ‘oh btw you are of course writing next year off we hope?’ I think it matters to hear from FA that he is cool with a bad car next year and that it is far more important to think 2022. I think they are all on the same page and it was just nice for FA to clarify he’s fine with the plan that means he’ll struggle to be competitive next year but that with any luck that decision will pay off for 2022.

  2. Wasn’t that the case already? When they hired Ricciardo, that was the plan, prepare for the next-gen cars.

    The fact that they need Alonso to remind them of that worries me. I don’t think Cyril is doing a good job generally, and I don’t see them overtaking or even matching the likes of Red Bull or Mercedes (or even Ferrari) come 2021…

    I hope they do, though… I like Renault and I really want Alonso to come back for wins, not for 5th places…

    1. @fer-no65 After all the years of suffering watching Alonso fight for P15, I’d take fighting for P5 in a heartbeat.

    2. @fer-no65 Just because FA has given his endorsement that they should not worry about wasting too much time and energy on this current car and rather put it into the new one, does not mean he is reminding them of something they were already doing anyway. I’m pretty sure he is just saying he expects next year’s car to be sub-par, so they won’t be letting him down. He’d only be let down if they wasted energy trying to make this car better when it is too far gone. He’d only be let down if they didn’t put every ounce of time, energy, and staff they can afford, into the 2022 car.

      1. Yep @robbie I read this more as assurance/confirmation that Alonso is on board with the pre-existing plan, and thus no worries him being there next year will form a distraction in getting ready for 2022 than as a change of plan.

        Like other posters, I too don’t quite know how good a team leader Abiteboul is, but this is certainly not a confirmation of him being bad at the job.

  3. Two year deal…

    …Renault confirmed as 2022 World Champions.

    1. @b3ndy You mean 2023?

  4. Hope the Renault CEO and shareholders don’t see this, His is basically saying flush €300-400 million down the drain (18 months of driving around in circles) until I get there.
    For them monies put in to F1 Senior management would expect the team to try the best every race.

  5. Well we saw how well Renault did when the new engine formula, the one that they were instrumental in bringing in, came about.

    I expect them to do about as well with the new technical regulations as they do with the new engine formula in 2014.

    As for Cyril’s statement, I’ll bet Dan and Esteban are feeling really confident about now. At least the pain will end for Dan at the end of the year, Esteban has another year to go.

    Good luck dealing with an entirely disinterested Fernando guys, I’m sure he’ll have nothing bad to say at all during 2021.

    1. @dbradock I highly doubt FA has said this to the team or to CA and will then be a whiner next year about a bad car. He knows the car is currently not up to snuff. He knows it won’t be next year either. All the teams had already started working on the 2021 (now 2022) cars. All FA is doing here is letting the team off the hook for next year by suggesting they put as much of their efforts into 2022 as possible while running the current cars as they must for this season and next. There is absolutely no point of wasting resources on a car that will likely still not be top 3, as hard as they try, for next year.

      No I think FA is saying put everything you can into 2022 and don’t worry about 2021 ie. I’ll gladly suffer next year in hopes of a better 2022. And I have no doubt that what FA has in mind is a closer set of teams and cars able to race closely with each other. FA isn’t going to need a top 3 car to make some waves, and I’m sure he’s stoked at the prospect of having his skill be less hidden by a bad car, as it will be for all drivers. The new gen is to make for much more driver vs driver action, and so FA is definitely going to be one who can separate the men from the boys. I think he is wise to let the team off the hook or take the pressure off them for next year so they can maximize their efforts for the new chapter.

      1. @robbie you’re assuming that Renault will make a fist of developing their 2022 car and seem to be of the opinion that all cars will be closer together under the new regulations.

        In 2014, all the pu manufacturers developed using the same regulations and Renault’s contribution barely made it to the grid so poor was their PU.

        I’ll be pleasantly surprised, we’ll shocked actually, if they bring a competitive car to 2022 given their lack of ability to show anything in their current car despite now having had sufficient time to do so.

        2021 – no one will develop because all teams will have to devote their limited capped budgets to their 3023 cars, so no I don’t expect anything positive got FA in 2021, nor can I see him being as chill about that as you seem to think he will be.
        However, I don’t think you’ll find 2022 will be as great for him as you seem to think because I don’t see Renault being closer to the top then than they are now. Sure he’ll be able to race other cars, something he’d always had the talent to do, even with current cars, but he’ll still just be racing midfield cars not the ones at the front.

        1. Oops 2022 cars not 3023 :) – even Renault should be able to develop something decent by then.

          1. @dbradock That’s fair comment. You may well be right about their inability to make anything beyond a mid-field car for the new chapter. But I think from FA’s standpoint, and given that he has decided to try, I think all they can do is hope for the best. I think he’s well aware of the odds, well aware there’s no guarantee, and likely just wants to have some fun and make some money doing what he loves and wants to give these wholly new cars a try.

            For sure you are right that the field may not be as close as I sound like it could be, especially early days where the budget cap will not have affected the top teams yet. But hey, I’m just in my armchair here and FA is the one willing to give it a shot. So I’m all for that because no matter the state of the car I think he can put it higher than it belongs. Renault has some more time to keep developing their pu, and if they can make some gains there, and do a half decent job on the chassis, well let’s just see.

            I just like that FA has let them off the hook for this year and next wrt the current car, other than I’m sure they would all like to see their pu improved as that is the only thing that will carry over to the new gen. I’m sure FA will help as much as he can in the pu area, but really I can understand them being stroked for 2022 as it is at least a chance to change the channel compared to how it has gone for them in the current era…them and other teams stuck in the doldrums too.

            In general much of the new regs are meant to make F1 more sustainable and create a better balance amongst the have and the have not teams, and give them some glimmer of hope, so…let’s just see. Not sure what else FA can do for now.

  6. Calm down everyone. Cyril isn’t so dim as to not already be thinking that far ahead.
    All he’s doing is putting the Renault name in the media again and is also probably a little bit excited that Alonso supports the long term plan of giving up on the car that can’t win anything and trying to develop one that can.
    I hope that is what they can achieve – so tired of the current dominance.

    1. + 1. A sensible comment.

  7. Meanwhile, given their free three year head start thanks to the dreaded token system, Mercedes is already 100% focused on the 2022 car and engine, making a mockery of all the othe teams still trying to catch up.
    2021-Mercedes WCC & WDC
    2022-Mercedes WCC & WDC
    2023-Mercedes WCC & WDC
    2024-Merdedes WCC & WDC
    2025-Mercedes WCC & WDC

    The moment Mercedes turned up their engine (probably just the 2018 spec) a notch on the first saturday in Austria (after fooling anyone with their “We’re seeing convergence”, resulting in another engine freeze) it was clear that no one will ever come close and the hybrid era is gonna be the most boring era ever in F1.

    I bet F1 is gonna lose millions of fans the next couple of years.

    1. They were not fooling anyone and that’s where you miss the point. Ferrari pushed too hard on what was permissible under the regs and in doing so, pushed Mercedes to work flat out to create the behemoth that was seen these last couple of races. The protest that was launched by Mercedes and others against Ferrari’s engine was that they couldn’t just figure out no matter how hard they tried how Ferrari could have gained all that power without some sort of oil burning, so they pushed. Don’t blame Mercedes, they’ve done what no one else can, blame it’s rivals for not stepping up to the challenge.

    2. I don’t know…your list of champions from 2021 – 2025 might be missing one…RP/Aston Martin. That team, I believe, is going to win one of those in my estimates. I’m a McLaren guy, but I do believe with all of the under current news surrounding RP/Aston Martin, that they are posturing to build a winner. A lot of behind the scenes work for sure. I think we are going to see the ‘new’ Aston Martin team hack F1.

      1. RP/Aston Martin won’t be winning any championships while Mercedes still have their own factory team.

        1. Exactly.

  8. This is the Alonso problem, he takes over a team and pushes it in the direction he thinks best suits him rather than the long term interest of the team’s development. They can’t ‘write off’ a season let alone two seasons. For one thing the real owners want some value for their money now and always, secondly the team itself needs more motivation than airily dismissing 2020 and 2021 as not worth the effort.

    I can only assume hat Renault are slow learners.

    1. Renault needs to be pushed.
      Abiteboul is a terrible teamleider and everyone with a vision, how bad it will be, is doing better.

    2. @Witan
      Renault have the luxury of being a factory funded team. Unlike Williams or Haas (for example) they can absolutely afford to write off the final season of this regulatory era to focus on building a more successful and hopefully championship winning car for the new regulatory era.
      And why wouldn’t they? They’ll still get the same airtime and media exposure next year regardless of whether they are the 4th best team or the 6th best team.
      If they manage to build a car that takes the championship in 2022 (and if so, perhaps also 2023 and beyond), was it not worth it?

  9. Abiteboul hopes to emulate the success other teams have had in preparing for past changes in technical rules. Most notably Mercedes, which has won every championship since the V6 hybrid turbo engine formula was introduced in 2014.

    2022 would still be V6 hybrid turbo, right? What other acceptable power unit configuration? V2 with 200 kWh battery?

  10. Why did he not have a similar attitude when he was at mclaren when they switched to Honda? He should have been more patient and helped to fix the problem instead of screaming ‘gp2 engine!’

    1. Because 2015 was pretty much a shock, McLaren turning from a front runner into a backmarker with serious reliability issues too. That was too much and unexpected.

    2. Jockey Ewing
      24th July 2020, 12:03

      Hopefully he will not invent the Frenchized version of it, something like “CV2 engine”.
      But imagine if he would be a driver for Fiat, and he would be yelling about having “Multipla engine”.
      The scrutineers would await him so much at the end of the race to see that configuration.

    3. You act as if 99% of the time he wasn’t putting out positive messages about Honda through the media. Go through all his interviews in 2015. Selective bias won’t get you very far in an argument.

  11. Cyril, look at me, I’m the boss now

    Ocon can say goodbye to his career

  12. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    24th July 2020, 12:04

    What happens if Renault don’t make a step forward in 2022 then, or even if they do, they don’t jump far enough to start challenging for wins, poles, podiums and championships?

    Though amusing he hasn’t even joined the team yet and is already dictating to them what they should logically already be doing. If Ocon doesn’t think he’s about to be Vandoorne’d he’s got a big storm coming.

    1. @rocketpanda Not the way I see it at all, as per other comments I’ve made here. I would say firstly he has already joined the team for all intents and purposes. I would think he has full access to their goings on already.

      As you say they are likely logically already doing what he has suggested and I think what he is doing is saying he doesn’t expect miracles from next years car so they shouldn’t even waste time on it ie. I’ll not complain about next years car as it is much more important we focus on 2022. He’s taking the pressure off them for next years sub-par car.

      What if they don’t make enough of a step forward in the new chapter? FA has been around long enough to know there are no guarantees. All he can do for now is endorse to the team that he will not be upset next year at an underperforming car, and that their best hope for the new chapter is to focus on that new chapter as much as they can and no worry about 2021 so much. The hope for all the teams, particularly the non-top-3 is that the new regs mean that even a top 5 or 6 car can be driven into a podium spot on a good day because the cars simply will no longer be held back in dirty air. Or if Renault could get up to top 4 let’s say, FA will thrill us with some great action and some podiums. And if they don’t, they don’t and life goes on, but that is yet to be determined, is an unknown, and all they can do is make the wisest choices they can now. And I think it is wise for FA to say, ‘don’t worry about me for 2021, let’s try to nail 2022.’

      1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
        24th July 2020, 17:46

        I admire both yours and Alonso’s optimism over the regulations change but I guess I just can’t see it changing much. I’m fully expecting Mercedes to waltz uncontested to further titles in 2022 onwards and there to be still a significant performance spread across the teams – with the same faces at the front, middle and rear. I hope I’m wrong, and if I am nobody will be happier than me! But I’m keeping my expectations and hopes quite low.

        Personally I think that’s what both Renault and Alonso should be doing – expecting very little movement but hoping for it. Too often do you hear ‘building year’, or ‘podiums coming’ – and they never do. Alonso’s not known for his patience or tolerance for a poor car so if Renault fail to deliver in 2022 I’m really doubt he’ll stick around. And while I have little doubt Alonso will perform quite well, I have doubts on Renault’s ability to capitalise on this rule change. For the resources available to them, they should be doing a lot better than they are now, let alone in a year’s time.

        1. @rocketpanda Yeah that’s fair comment. For sure the odds seem that Renault will still wallow around in the mid field, but then again this is all so new…the style of car, the budgeting etc etc…we’ll just have to see. I guess my main ‘theme’ here on this would be that as a team, and FA as a driver, they are not going to be sat there as we speak decrying how they are never going to make any gains and they will always be relegated to the mid-field. No…that’s just not what teams do. They are going to be looking at this new chapter as an opportunity for gain, not a guarantee of failure. Even if observers think that’s ludicrous, they don’t. They can’t. They can’t be an effective team if they are always negative and mopey about their chances. They’ve got FA, they’ll be stoked for the new chance, and so it’s nose to the grindstone and see what they can do. It’s that or go home, and FA nor the team seem to want to do that, lol.

      2. @robbie as @rocketpanda notes, whilst it seems to be the case that you are very optimistic about what will happen, and indeed seem to be taking it as a given that the rules will work exactly as proposed, not necessarily all are that optimistic that what you are hoping for will occur in practice.

        At the start of this year, Peter Prodromou – McLaren’s Chief Technical Officer and formerly the Head of Aerodynamics at Red Bull – discussed the potential impact of the upcoming regulations during a question and answer session at the University of Glasgow.

        He was sceptical that the regulations would succeed in achieving those objectives, and did also suggest that, at least to begin with, the rule changes might increase field spread. He did, however, suggest that because the regulations are likely to make it easier to copy designs on other cars, convergence in performance might be more rapid.

        Similarly, Newey has also expressed some similar opinions on the proposed regulations in an interview for Motorsport Magazine earlier this year, also suggesting that the initial effect will probably be to spread the field further apart, with a similar expectation of convergence after that to a design philosophy that matches that of the team at the front.

        However, it also sounded as if he expected the rules to put a more significant emphasis on smaller performance differentiators, so if the objective was to stop what you’ve previously termed “excessive innovation”, then it might have instead had the impact of encouraging spending in those areas. He also did not sound entirely convinced that the new regulations will achieve their aim of making overtaking easier either, only seeming to think that “maybe” they will help the situation.

  13. It makes sense. They’re not gonna be challenging Mercedes next year that’s for sure. For sure they want to do alright and keep their winnings up, but if they really want glory then yeah all the other teams should be doing this. Try and get a leg up for the new era.

    Ferrari most of all, but no doubt they will scramble to do well next year, put too many resources in, still do badly and then not be as prepared for 22 as the others and it just rumbles on.

  14. Renault should forget about Cyril…

  15. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th July 2020, 13:36

    I don’t get the whole “we’ll focus on the next gen car”. If you can’t improve the current car over 6 years, why on earth would you expect to make the next gen car competitive? What if you fail to be competitive in the 1st race with the next gen car? Is the battle over at that point and then you get to wait another 6 years? :-)

    These guys really need to focus on everything TODAY!!!

    They need to appoint a strong leader as the team principal – someone who can get the job done like Wolff did.

    1. Ask Honda if writing off one year in order to make gains the next is worth it…
      Unfortunately for them, there was a GFC so they sold the team to Brawn before they actually got their returns.

      Remind me – how’s that team going now?

      And yes, without the budget cap if a mid-field team wasn’t competitive immediately they probably could write off the next 5 years realistically, as they can’t out-develop a factory team with 3 times the budget.
      With a budget cap – well, we’ll need to wait and see, but the chances of being left behind completely are theoretically smaller.
      But having a head start never hurt a race team, did it?

  16. Now I know why many don’t like abituboul…

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