Renault claims to be overjoyed”about having committed with Carlos Sainz the absolute candidate as teammate for Nico Hullkenberg in Formula One season 2018.
“He is a talented driver, just what we need”, says team leader Cyril Abiteboul in front of the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka Ticker in an interview with “Motorsport-Total.com” and praises: “He is fast, he is experienced.”
A decisive reason for his high opinion of Sainz is the Red Bull School, which the 23-year-old has been going through since his entry into the formula BMW at the age of 15 years: “He comes from a very well organized structure in which he has always been able to drive a lot, train a lot, was much in the simulator. We have been working with Red Bull for twelve years and therefore know very well what they do and how they manage their drivers. And I have a lot of respect for how they do it.”
Abiteboul thus plays less on Helmut Marko’s hard dealing with the juniors at – Daniil Kvyat can sing a song of it right now, but rather on the perfect training environment offered to the young racers. Red Bull’s support is not only financial in nature, but also takes place in the mental and physical realm. At the base near the group headquarters in Salzburg so many boys have already been trained as men.
Argument for Sainz: The 23-year-old is still hungry!
“We knew that a driver coming from there would have the perfect level for us. At the same time Carlos is young enough, can still rise, wants above all to achieve goals for himself and the team for which he drives,”Abiteboul explains. Nevertheless, Sainz was “not the only driver” to whom we spoke. We have looked at some other options.”For example Sergio Perez and Robert Kubica, as they say.
The only straw that accompanies the Sainz commitment: If Red Bull wants him back to replace Max Verstappen or Daniel Ricciardo, Renault must have Sainz pulled. Because Renault basically just borrowed it from Red Bull. Abiteboul confirms that such an option exists and explains in detail: “As a Red Bull driver, Red Bull would have priority for him: Red Bull Racing, not Toro Rosso. We come in second place of the ranking.”
“This is a concession we had to make,”Abiteboul admits. Renault, however, wants to make progress in order to be 2020 World Cup-ready, and that requires the best available drivers. This would have been Sainz in the current situation, even if you could not tie him up in the long term. At first Abiteboul hopes to make such great progress in sports that Sainz does not want to become Red Bull at the end of 2018.
Renault would not have expected 2018 to have a Caliber Sainz
“It is almost beyond our own expectations to have a driver like Carlos already 2018,” Abiteboul rejoices. That is why I am not so hurt that we had to make that concession. We know that if we do not succeed in tying Carlos to us for 2019, there will be movement on the driver market, and if we are competitive 2018, we will certainly find attractive other driver options for us.”
The Renault team leader admits, by the way, Sainz can already be seen with different eyes than before the signature. For example, in his outstanding fourth place in Singapore: “This was another confirmation of the decision. When you hire a driver, you watch him with different eyes. But right now, he’s still an opponent. In this respect, I cannot rejoice at his fourth place, because we are in the World Cup fighting Toro Rosso.”
The question is how harmonious it will be between Sainz and Hullkenberg. But even a tense pair of drivers, as is currently the case with Force India, between Perez and Esteban Ocon, would be a “luxury problem” for Abiteboul. The Renault team leader assumes that Sainz will go straight to Hullkenberg level, even if he notes: “Maybe they will be different.”
Abiteboul believes: Hullkenberg must stretch
“Nico is a very strong qualifier, Carlos is very strong on Sundays. Or even in difficult circumstances such as Singapore,”he says. He is a fantastic rainmaker and in fast passages like in a spa he is incredibly strong. I’m not saying Nico is weaker in these areas than Carlos, but I’m pretty sure they’re gonna push each other. And that’s exactly what you expect from your drivers.”
From Hullkenberg you will see 2018 even more”sure”when the teammate is called Sainz and no longer Jolyon Palmer:”That’s not supposed to be,”Abiteboul relativizes,”that I expect to see much more coming from Nico. Because if you look at what he is already capable of doing on Saturdays, it is already one of the most impressive elements of Nico.”
“I am absolutely convinced that Nico is already getting the best out of our package today,”praises the Frenchman his German number one.”But at the same time, yes, I think so, Carlos will have a positive effect. We can no longer afford to accept such a steep gap between the two drivers. That’s not how it works. This is something we absolutely had to change for next year.”