Monday, 09 july 2018, 05:47 , by Matthew Scott
Renault have not ruled out a move for Fernando Alonso, but team boss Cyril Abiteboul says they are only interested in signing the two-time world champion to a long-term deal. McLaren's continued struggles in Formula 1 have led to suggestions that their prized asset could leave at the end of the year.
Although McLaren CEO Zak Brown is keen to indulge Alonso's bid for the 'Triple Crown' - facilitating his appearance at the Indianpolis 500 last year and allowing him to race in the World Endurance Championship - Renault have made clear that their priorities remain success in F1.
Alonso won both of his world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, but has now gone over five years without a grand prix victory owing to McLaren's chaotic slump.
Although Renault remain happy with Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg as a driver pairing, Sainz remains on loan from Red Bull and the German has never scored a podium in his career, making Alonso a tempting possibility.
Abiteboul is quoted by Marca: "I don't want to encourage that rumour. I think Fernando first has to decide what he wants to do for himself, which is whether to continue driving in F1 or not.
"We have a lot of respect for Fernando, but we are more interested in drivers who want to be with us in the long term.
"We could still reach an agreement with Alonso, but doing it for a year would not make sense."
Renault will lose Red Bull as a customer in 2019 when they switch to Honda power units, meaning the underperforming McLaren squad will be their only reference point, but Abiteboul remains confident that the works team can continue to progress.
"We are not in a hurry and we also have to see what the side effects are of the decision [by Red Bull] on the engine," Abiteboul added.
"But we are improving and I think that is clear for everyone, for the press, for the fans and especially for the drivers.
"We have seen interest from several drivers who want to be with us, so I wouldn't say it's quiet, because we have to continue working with the ones we have, who in general work well and we would like to keep them.
"But I am calm in the sense that, if we do what we have to do, which is to have a good car and progress as a team, we will have a numbers of racers who want to come to us."