[F1 2018 VIDEO FEATURE] RENAULT SPORT: GOING UP A GEAR

Renault Sport continues to charge towards its target of being a top team by 2020, with the squad taking yet another step for next year – following last month’s signing of established gun Daniel Ricciardo.

And while team boss Cyril Abiteboul has said the French marque had to increase its 2019 budget to afford the affable Australian – with Ricciardo said to bank a cool £40 million British pounds across his 2-year deal… 

Abiteboul said the brand has everything it needs to compete with the top teams.

SOUNDBITE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“It's not just an ambition, we have the resources, we have the equipment, we have the skills. We need more time for the construction, because Formula One is all about evolution.”

Ricciardo comes as a proven talent, with seven Grand Prix wins, two pole positions and a solid reputation as one of F1’s best racers, with even Red Bull motorsport consultant Doctor Helmut Marko saying, “sometimes his opponents don’t even realise they are being overtaken.”

And while his recruitment sends a strong statement of intent to Renault’s rivals, the French marque focused on a return to the front, Abiteboul has admitted that while Ricciardo provides excellent technical feedback, he’s the perfect fit for the team’s culture.

SOUNDBITE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“He’s got also this ability which I think is very Australian to be a little bit about, can be laid back, fun, not arrogant, but extremely talented, extremely motivated. And that's exactly our style, that's our philosophy. We don't want to take us too seriously, but I can tell you that we are very serious about our ambitions.”

In terms of moving up the grid, the team remains on target with progress, and Renault Sport Racing president Jérôme Stoll happy with development up to the beginning of the 2018 campaign.

SOUNDBITE (English) JÉRÔME STOLL,
PRESIDENT, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“I would say after two years we have met our objectives, especially in terms of performance, because we were ninth, the first season. We were sixth on the second season and we divided by half the gap that we had with the top team. This is a very good result.”

And the brand has, of course, made another step forward this year to sit fourth in the constructors’ behind the top teams, care of better reliability.

Nico Hülkenberg took points at 8 of the first 14 races – with his best, a fifth in Germany. While Carlos Sainz has just the one DNF, after crashing with Haas’ Romain Grosjean at Silverstone… fifth his best in Azerbaijan.

Monza was a challenging round for the French marque – with Hülkenberg starting at the back, finishing 13th and Sainz taking four points for eighth, but Singapore ahead should be better.

AUDIO QUOTE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“It’s a Grand Prix that we like. It’s a spectacular race. It’s a race also where our car should be more competitive. We like that type of track. We’ll have some upgrades coming up to that track so we should be able to, as always, fight for points.”

More upgrades are expected throughout the final seven races, to ensure the squad can secure fourth – for added momentum into 2019, when the brand should again be the sport’s dark horse.

But it’s becoming a case of when – and not if – Renault returns to the front that has its rivals on edge, as time marches on.