In the aftermath of the official announcement confirming Red Bull and Renault splitting as partners at the end of this season, the French manufacturer’s Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul is vowing to make the Blues suffer for their decision to take on board Honda power from 2019 and beyond.
The perpetual decline in relations between Red Bull and Renault bosses made this divorce inevitable, animosity often bubbled over in a war of words often waged through the media.
True to form Abiteboul has launched nothing short of a vendetta by declaring in an interview, “We will do everything we can to make them regret this decision.”
“What I mean by that is simply doing the best we can on track with our own team under our own colours. I am really extremely excited by the performance improvement to come, in particular with Spec C which we will introduce later this season.”
“At this point in time there is no reason to think that Red Bull will not be receiving it, although we are yet to confirm details of engine allocation plan, but I hope that we will make them regret.”
Abiteboul knew that the writing was on the wall for quite some time now, “Not surprised whatsoever, frankly, I think first we tend to forget this is a confirmation – it is more a status quo actually.”
“Last year in Singapore we announced a comprehensive set of agreements with both the Red Bull group and McLaren.”
“This was featuring a termination of Toro Rosso at the end of 2017 and termination of Red Bull at the end of 2018, even though Red Bull had requested to be a bit more vague about that topic.
“It is more that it went in a different direction when Red Bull requested to us an offer, as there was a bit of indecision about which way to go.”
“For us it is more a confirmation of what was in the air, and which is also a strategic and commercial decision more than purely a technical or sporting decision from Red Bull.”
Nevertheless, Abiteboul was big enough to understand the call from Red Bull’s perspective, “Just like when we returned to the sport as a works team, it was important for Red Bull to renew and get back to a position of being a works team.’
“It could not be with Renault, it had to be with another entity and they found in Honda a perfect match. So I am sure it is a mix of factors and parameters. I am sure that there something related to performance, but it is very clear there is much more than this.”
“And there are a number of things that we could not offer, like financial support, like access to core facilities, because our priority and focus is on the consolidation of the performance of Renault Sport F1.”
On several occasions, over the past few seasons, it was clear that Renault were stretched to the limit with the burden of supplying three teams in the top flight, thus the pressure of one less team to service is sure to be a positive for the operation which now consists of a supply to the works effort and McLaren.
Abiteboul explained, “It is good for us because it will allow us to really focus on what we have to do for our own team, Renault Sport Racing, and also in preparing for 2021.”
“Obviously when you supply Red Bull Racing, which is a high maintenance team, because of their ambition and their expectation, it is always a bit of a distraction for the rest that we have to do. And we have a lot to do either for this cycle of engine regulations or for the next one.”
In the wake of a silly deadline spat between the two outfits, Renault finally got their way with an early call by their colleagues as Abiteboul highlighted, “It was making our life difficult with the supply chain and the development of parts for next year, plus there is also some sensitivity related to intellectual property (IP).”
“It was always our baseline assumption that they would be switching to another engine supplier for next year and we were becoming more and more concerned about IP. It was important for us to get clarity of their plans for next year so we could take appropriate measures.”
“Equally if they were not going somewhere else, we could slightly change the way we were working together both for the remainder of this season and the preparation of next season.”
“So there were a number of factors that were requiring some clarity and if anything I could like to thank them for appreciating that there was no point in delaying a decision,” concluded Abiteboul.
Red Bull and Renault was once a dream partnership, winning four straight F1 drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010 to 2013.
During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have been far rarer and there have been only 10 race wins and no titles since then.
Big Question: Will Red Bull regret ditching Renault?