Formula 1

Daniel Ricciardo’s F1 Career Moves Scrutinized by Former Renault Boss Cyril Abiteboul

Former Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul has openly criticized Daniel Ricciardo’s career decisions, labeling them as “selfish” and “personal rejection”. Abiteboul’s revelations offer a behind-the-scenes look at Ricciardo’s tumultuous times with Renault and McLaren.

Key Takeaways:

  • Early Departure Criticism: Cyril Abiteboul, former Renault F1 team boss, expressed disappointment over Daniel Ricciardo’s early exit from the team, considering it a “selfish” move and a personal rejection, especially during the challenging 2020 season impacted by COVID-19.
  • Career Choices Questioned: Abiteboul reflected on Ricciardo’s struggles with adapting to a slower car at Renault and his subsequent premature departure to McLaren, which he later left as the team began showing promise.
  • Mixed Emotions on Ricciardo’s Impact: Despite acknowledging Ricciardo’s talent, Abiteboul revealed mixed feelings about the Australian driver’s tenure with Renault, citing his initial underestimation of the team’s challenges and Ricciardo’s timing issues in his career moves.

In a candid revelation, former Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has branded Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to leave Renault and then McLaren as “selfish”, adding a layer of complexity to the Australian driver’s Formula 1 journey. Ricciardo’s move from Red Bull to Renault in 2018 was a shock to many, and his tenure with Renault, which was marred by a challenging start and a global pandemic, added to the drama.

Abiteboul’s comments, aired on the Dans La Boîte À Gants podcast, not only shed light on Ricciardo’s career choices but also provide insight into the often turbulent world of F1 team dynamics. “He makes his decision in April or May; the world is at a standstill, we don’t know how we’re going to get back on track, if we’re going to get back on track,” Abiteboul said, highlighting the timing of Ricciardo’s decision amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ricciardo’s early days at Renault were not smooth sailing. Coming from the highly competitive environment of Red Bull, adjusting to a slower car was psychologically challenging for him. Abiteboul recalls the 2019 Baku Grand Prix as a low point, with Ricciardo making “mistake after mistake.” Despite these struggles, Renault showed significant progress in 2020, which ironically coincided with Ricciardo’s decision to move to McLaren.

The story took another turn when Ricciardo terminated his contract with McLaren towards the end of 2022. This decision came just as McLaren was closing the gap with top teams like Red Bull. Abiteboul reflected on this, saying, “Ricciardo always has a timing problem: he left us too early and he left McLaren too early.”

Abiteboul also revealed his own foresight, predicting his departure from Renault upon signing Ricciardo. “That evening, I went to my favourite restaurant in Marseille with my partner and I said to her: ‘Tonight, we toast two things. One, to the fact that we’ve signed Ricciardo… Two, to the fact that in two years’ time, I’ll be sacked’,” he recollected, indicating his awareness of the challenges ahead.

As of now, Cyril Abiteboul has moved on to a new role as the team principal of Hyundai’s World Rally Championship operation, while Ricciardo’s F1 future continues to be a topic of much speculation and discussion in the racing world.

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