Alonso "has almost no interest in 2021" - Renault boss Abiteboul
Fernando Alonso has informed Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul he has already written off the 2021 Formula 1 season as his focus is on 2022.
Alonso is to end a two-year sabbatical from F1 when he reunites with Renault from next year for the third time in his career, but with his sights already set on the following season when new, wide-sweeping regulations come into force.
"What's good with Fernando is that he knows Formula 1 inside out, on track and off track,” said Abiteboul.
“Just to give you an idea of the things he can bring, he’s got this capability in building a plan, building a strategy, not just for the race team but also for the whole Formula 1 programme.
"To give you an example, for him, it’s all about 2022. He has almost no interest in 2021.
“He will be racing with us in 2021 so you could think that he has a vested interest in making sure that we are as competitive as we can.
"But actually he’s saying ‘You know what guys, forget about '20 and ’21’. It’s not that we are not going to be decent, but it’s all about ’22.”
“This sort of thinking, this sort of ability to plan ahead, this sort of experience that in Formula 1 you build success years in advance and by making sacrifices years before, has happened every single time in the history of Formula 1.
“That’s the sort of philosophy he can bring in which is extremely helpful for me as a manager of the team, for lots of people. Bringing a little bit of calm in the team is useful.”
Abiteboul has reiterated his promise to junior drivers Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard that they will one day be given their chance in F1 after they were overlooked for a race seat as extenuating circumstances forced his hand to sign Alonso.
"As for young drivers like Guanyu Zhou, the main difficulty we had with them for this year - and specifically for this year - was that with the delay to the season starting, we didn't know if they would be eligible for a superlicence at the end of the year," added Abiteboul.
"That would be mid-December. The question is: can we afford to wait until the middle of December to find out if he, or Christian Lundgaard, could be one option for next year? The simple answer is no.
"It doesn't mean we have a lack of interest, or commitment or loyalty for bringing them into Formula 1. We will do that. That's part of the programme, part of the commitment to them, and I will make sure that it happens.
"But there was a bit of a difference in timing this year, and we are obviously very happy to go for this option with Fernando, who is arguably one of the best drivers in Formula One history, so why would you refuse?"
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