Renault: Ricciardo arrival feels like Alonso glory years
Daniel Ricciardo's capture by Renault for 2019 left the team's staff as upbeat as they were during the title-winning years with Fernando Alonso, says F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul.
Renault's move for Ricciardo last summer was one of the shocks of the year, as the Australian elected to join the French car manufacturer rather than stick with Red Bull.
Reflecting on the signing of Ricciardo, Abiteboul said that the way his team's factories in England and France reacted to the news harked back to the French car manufacturer's glory years with Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
"It was obviously a huge relief, fantastic news – and the way it was welcomed in the factories at Viry and Enstone was just amazing," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
"I was expecting something, but nothing in relation to what I have been able to witness.
"It was a fantastic moment. I have never seen a reaction like that in either of the two factories. It was reminding me of the titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
"We have not won anything, but there is this feeling that now we are really on a trajectory to be able to win something. We really feel now this obligation to come up with an engine and a chassis that will be capable of giving what that guy deserves."
Although the arrival of Ricciardo was a great boost for Renault as it bids to return to the front of the grid, Abiteboul is also clear that having a race winner on board increases pressure on the outfit to step up its game.
"We feel more obliged towards Renault, towards our sponsors, towards our fans, towards the legacy of the Renault brand in motorsport, because I don't want to look at disappointment or frustration in his eyes over the next two years," added Abiteboul.
"I don't want to feel what McLaren must have felt with Fernando over the past few years."
But Abiteboul is clear that Ricciardo full understands what Renault is capable of in the short term, and that he is not expecting instant results.
"I was clear to Daniel that if he was expecting a team that is a turn key organisation – a turn key car where everything is ready and everything is prepared – and his only contribution will be to drive to a fantastic level, but just to drive, he should look elsewhere.
"What I told him is we are still in the making, we are still progressing, we are still in construction but his contribution will be to be much more than to drive. We are expecting from him to be an ambassador, a leader and to bring his experience, and his expertise into the team.
"We have added a lot of ingredients into the team, a lot of assets, a lot of people, a lot of headcount, but now we need that extra sparkle. I think he will like that challenge."
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