Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul claimed Esteban Ocon’s second-place finish in the Sakhir Grand Prix was “really crucial” as it showed Fernando Alonso “what he will have to deal with” next season.
Two-time world champion Alonso was in Bahrain with the team at the weekend as part of his continuing preparations ahead of his return to Formula 1 next season in place of outgoing driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Ocon, who was once a hotly-tipped Mercedes protégé and has also previously raced for Manor and Force India, has struggled to live up to his promise after joining Renault this season.
But Abiteboul was delighted to finally see a worthy performance from the French driver, who has often been out-performed by McLaren-bound Ricciardo, to give new team-mate Alonso food for thought.
“I’m really happy for Esteban,” said Abiteboul. “We’ve had good moments with Daniel, but with Daniel leaving and Esteban being part of the team for next year it was important to show something positive around Esteban.
“We could feel it was something absolutely possible, and for some reason, and for sure some reliability issues that he had no responsibility for, we let him down, but this time everything worked well.
“This moment with Esteban was really crucial because it shows to Fernando what he will have to deal with next season.”
The 18 points for second place, along with Ricciardo’s 10 for fifth, provided the team with its largest points haul since it returned to F1 in 2016 as a constructor in its own right.
While it helped Renault improve in the constructors’ championship, rivals Racing Point gained 12 points on it after finishing first and third in a chaotic race.
Renault is now fifth in the championship, 12 points behind fourth-placed McLaren and 22 points behind Racing Point, leaving all to play for in the final round in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Abiteboul added: “It’s bittersweet because I feel we could have done slightly better with Daniel, and obviously from a championship perspective it doesn’t help our case, but its 100 per cent for Esteban and fully deserved.
“We are in a part of the field where it’s very tight but we still feel there are good points up for grabs. The swing effects are quite big, so it’s open. We are on the back foot, but we will give the maximum until the chequered flag.”
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