FEBRUARY 10, 2017

Renault not replacing boss Vasseur

Renault will not be directly replacing departed team boss Frederic Vasseur.

Renault will not be directly replacing departed team boss Frederic Vasseur.

That is the claim of Cyril Abiteboul, despite some media reports naming the Frenchman as Vasseur's successor as team principal.

After just a year in charge of the French works team, Vasseur left amid speculation of a management dispute involving Abiteboul.

But Abiteboul remains managing director.

Asked by Germany's Auto Motor und Sport if he is the new boss, he answered: "No.

"But I will be at every race and attend the meetings of the team principals. I will ensure there is harmony in the group and between the factories in Enstone and Viry Chatillon.

"Alan Permane and Ciaron Pilbeam will fulfil the tasks on the pitwall very well," Abiteboul added.

"The decision not to replace Frederic directly is because our current management is strong enough to shoulder the task."

Renault had a difficult return as a full works team in 2016, and now Abiteboul is playing down hopes of significantly better performance this year.

"We are not looking for excuses -- we want to take a step in 2017," he said.

"On the other hand, the management needs to think about the medium and long term future. Our people must feel comfortable in the structure, because success depends on it," added Abiteboul.

"Our roadmap is that we want to go for the championship in 2020," he revealed. "If we want to get there, we have to be able to get podium places now and then in 2018.

"This means being in the midfield again this year," said Abiteboul. "It is anything but easy, but we have legitimate hopes of being between places five and seven."

Asked if that will be enough to satisfy the paymasters and decision-makers on the Renault board, Abiteboul sounded relaxed.

"Renault is not new to the sport. We've been in formula one for 40 years, and when the decision was made to return, everyone knew it would be difficult.

"We have to prove that we are on the right trajectory and achieving our goals," he said.