Wednesday, 08 august 2018, 10:40 , by Matthew Scott
Cyril Abiteboul says the chance to sign Daniel Ricciardo as a full-time Renault driver "was the only option" the French team could take for 2019. Ricciardo will partner Nico Hulkenberg next season, having confirmed his decade-long Red Bull career will come to an end.
Renault had been widely expected to sign Esteban Ocon to their line-up in 2019, with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff sanctioning the Frenchman's move to their manufacturing rival.
Carlos Sainz Jr was also on Renault's shortlist, having spent time on loan from Red Bull this season, and the tail-end of 2017.
Although Sainz would have been released from his Red Bull deal, Ocon would have been on a similar loan deal s the Spaniard has been this season.
Abiteboul says the chance to sign one of Formula 1's top stars to a permanent deal was too good to pass on.
"Esteban was on the short list and Carlos was also considered, but Ricciardo was the only option," Abiteboul told RMC.
"In addition to him being the best, we made sure we had a driver one hundred per cent at Renault.
"It was too great an opportunity to lose it.
"Only once every two or three years does such an occasion appear. The next time the train passes with one of the best drivers could be after 2021."