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Abiteboul: New regs delay hasn’t changed our commitment

The one-year delay of new technical regulations due to the COVID-19 pandemic has not affected Renault’s plans for its Formula 1 future, says team principal Cyril Abiteboul.

Despite having made it well-known the team was targeting the regulatory revolution originally set for 2021 as the point when it would start challenging F1’s front-runners, Abiteboul maintains their delay to 2022 has not — at least as of yet — caused the French outfit to reconsider its commitment.

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“It is not a one-year postponement that will make us review our position, even if the scope of the crisis, which we do not yet know, could force us to do so,” he told Auto Hebdo.

“However, if we reach this stage, we will not be the only ones in this scenario. Some teams, without naming them, are more exposed than us.”

More important for Abiteboul is that the sport’s various stakeholders keep working to ensure its long-term viability.

“If we were to find ourselves permanently, or rather sustainably, in a two-tier F1, then we could reconsider our position,” he said.

“But the combination of the three following elements: a cap on costs, revised technical regulations and new Concorde Agreement, tells us that we have the means to bridge the gap with the leaders. Assuming obviously that we do our job well.

“I don’t see any indication that we’re dumber than others, with all due respect to certain critics and commentators.

“The budget cap will be introduced next year with a lower limit. We’re still involved with the new Concorde Agreement for 2021. There is only one component, the technical regulations, that is delayed.

“You don’t decide the fate of your commitment to Formula 1, usually decided for a period of ten years, because of a crisis of this sort that leads to a one-year postponement.”

At the same time, Renault’s commitment isn’t the only one under question, with Daniel Ricciardo’s contract up at the end of the 2020 season.

“It’s complicated for both Daniel and us,” Abiteboul admits. “We wanted to see the spirit, the performance, how the team functioned during this second year together, what progress we had made on the car, to see how it felt.

“We discussed a calendar to identify the key stages we wanted to talk about. It was all in a normal universe that has since been shattered. Afterwards, we’re already talking to each other on this aspect, because he wants to see where he’s going.

“I don’t have any great revelations for you. Daniel’s an option for us, it’s a no-brainer. But we have to consider others. Not racing makes it harder to make the right decisions, but we can’t put them off forever.”