Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul has recognised the French manufacturer's works team have not competed well enough with the top teams like Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull in recent years, but thinks they now have the "means to match" the best in F1.
The French team finished fourth in the constructors' rankings last year, and have built on that with a positive winter testing period in 2019 as well as the coup of bringing in Daniel Ricciardo from Red Bull.
Abiteboul recognises that the gap to the elite teams has been big in the past, but Renault now have the infrastructure to compete, just like Red Bull have developed into a force in the past decade.
"Yes, the RS19 made a good start, and in addition he [Ricciardo] comes to us with a recent past that is quite exceptional. We all agree that Red Bull is a Benchmark," he told TF1.
"We have had a handicap on the engine side for too many seasons now.
"So this season, it must be the season when we join the best, and I think we have the means to match this ambition."
Next week, we race. The long, cold, winter months are behind us. Testing has been and gone. We have packed all our gear, we've ironed our team kit. Our passports have been found (phew!) and we've booked the aisle seats. This is it friends; next week, we race!#RSspiritpic.twitter.com/lm1dvjHfNe
— Renault F1 Team (@RenaultF1Team) March 8, 2019
The Frenchman believes that there isn't much to choose between the midfield teams, but he thinks Renault could pull away to compete with Red Bull, who finished third last year.
“We were third in the testing kilometres and nothing is fundamentally wrong with the car,” Abiteboul told Auto Motor und Sport.
“We are closer to the top than before. In our estimation, there is practically nothing between us, Toro Rosso, Haas, Alfa Romeo and McLaren. Red Bull is still a mystery to us.”
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