Renault heads into the new season ready to consolidate its place as “best of the rest,” to own the gap between the top teams and midfield.
And while Carlos Ghosn has resigned as its chairman and CEO, following charges of financial misconduct - replaced by Thierry Bolloré as CEO and Michelin’s Jean-Dominique Senard as chairman.
… there’s still stability at the top, with Jérôme Stoll remaining as president of Renault Sport Racing… his retirement postponed after his replacement Thierry Koskas sensationally quit before starting.
… ensuring consistent strategic management.
SOUNDBITE (English) JÉRÔME STOLL,
PRESIDENT, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“When the decision was taken by Renault [late 2015] to re-enter as a team in the Formula 1 we had two main objectives. First is to support the development of the awareness of the brand worldwide. The second is to push the image of the Renault brand on its market.”
For team boss Cyril Abiteboul, 2019 is about managing expectations – for a team desperate to return to glory before its time.
… and a driver used to winning races, in Daniel Ricciardo – who joins the French marque after 10 years with the Red Bull brand.
SOUNDBITE (English) CYRIL ABITEBOUL,
MANAGING DIRECTOR, RENAULT SPORT RACING:
“Daniel, who is one of the most charismatic drivers in the [Formula 1] paddock, and we don't want to see frustration or disappointment in his eyes for the next two years, so I think we all feel more motivation but also a bit more pressure.”
The pressure will also be on Ricciardo, who has to snatch the upper hand in his fight with The Hulk, Nico Hülkenberg.
And while the German is yet to stand on the podium in 156 races, his best result fourth – Ricciardo knows Hülkenberg is underrated.
The German defeated Carlos Sainz last year: 13-8 in qualifying, 7-4 in the races when they could be compared, and scored 16 more points or 69-53, which makes him dangerous.
… especially when Ricciardo is coming in cold, and not used to the subtle nuances of the Renault – rear instability not playing to Sainz’s driving style, and the Australian a similar animal.
All of which could play into Hülkenberg’s hands, spiking his reputation as he goes up against a highly rated racer.
SOUNDBITE (English) NICO HÜLKENBERG,
F1 DRIVER, RENAULT:
“Obviously I’ve been with the team now since more than a year. And since race one, and since day one, we’ve been working together. And I’ve given them the feedback of what we need, what the weak areas are – and that’s obviously the more important subject because that’s the things we need to tackle and improve.”
It’s going to be a fascinating contest to watch from the outset.