Abiteboul: We are closer to the top than before

Renault F1 team boss Cyril Abiteboul is confident his team are in a better place than they were last year ahead of next week’s Formula 1 season-opening Rolex Australian Grand Prix 2019.

After finishing fourth in the 2018 constructors’ standings, Renault added Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo, the 29-year-old making a high-profile switch from Red Bull to join Nico Hulkenberg in the team.

An impressive testing period has also boosted Renault spirits but Abiteboul is aware that some of his team’s rivals have also improved.

“We were third in the testing kilometres and nothing is fundamentally wrong with the car,” Abiteboul told Auto Motor und Sport. “We are closer to the top than before. In our estimation, there is practically nothing between us, Toro Rosso, Haas, Alfa Romeo and McLaren. Red Bull is still a mystery to us.”

A podium finish is the target for Renault in 2019, with technical boss Nick Chester positive the team would be “very competitive”.

“I think we will see a very competitive Renault this year,” he told El Confidencial. “There is a big gap to the three teams ahead of us, but we want to reduce that and have a podium at least.”

“At the same time, we are looking ahead to the future. We want to be champions in 2021,” added Chester.

Renault won back to back titles in 2005-2006 when Fernando Alonso did the business, he was also the last driver to win for them when he triumphed at the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix.