Why Did Cyril Abiteboul Leave? What Happens Now?

Cyril Abiteboul

It could be said, Cyril Abiteboul leaving the F1 paddock has brought about the first big development to a season that’s yet to begin. In a sport where there’s action constantly taking place both on and off the grid, Cyril Abiteboul exiting the Alpine FORMULA 1 team is a bit of a shocker.

In some ways, therefore, surely, none expected such a sudden pre-season shakedown. That said, what might have led to this all-too-shocking a development? Weren’t Renault (now, rebranded as Alpine F1 team) doing well where the 2020 season was concerned?

After all, scoring 181 points and gathering a strong P5 in the 2020 F1 Constructor’s Championship, showed that Renault under Cyril Abiteboul was packing quite a punch.

Any doubts regarding the Frenchman’s leadership of the resilient midfielder are dashed to the ground when you look beyond the 2020 season too.

Not once since the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix did the famous French constructor gather even a single podium in the period hence, a not so pretty sight reversed emphatically when under the able guidance of Cyril Abiteboul, as Daniel Ricciardo and co turned a corner.

As the ‘Honeybadger’ drove past the checkered flag at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix, Renault bagged their first podium since Nick Heidfeld’s efforts at Sepang.

While on the lighter side, it did push Cyril Abiteboul into a muddle in that he lost the long standing bet to Daniel about having to get a tattoo if the Aussie would fetch the side a podium (in 2020 season), on a serious note, the Nurburgring effort was emphatic for the team and its #1 driver.

Moreover, it was under Cyril Abiteboul that Renault brought about a big change in fortunes in the last season when compared to how they fared on the 2019 charts.

Wondering how?

In the 2019 FORMULA 1 season, while Renault did manage another decent P5 on the Constructor table, their overall tally of 91 points wasn’t entirely exciting. Think for a second how much the team improved having a leader who believed in pushing the team in the right direction. So much so that in the next twelve months, the team scored double what they did in a benign 2019 run (wherein Scuderia Toro Rosso were beaten by a margin of 6 points, the Italian side gathering a P6).

That said, what happens now to the newly rebranded Alpine F1 team? And what does one make of the development?

The Frenchman had been expected to move into a new role within the company following a management shake-up at the rebranded Alpine squad, but instead he is departing completely.

Abiteboul’s position as team principal of the F1 squad has already been filled by Laurent Rossi.

Cyril Abiteboul
Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director in the FIA Press Conference. 70th Anniversary Grand Prix, Friday 7th August 2020. Silverstone, England. (FIA Pool Image)

Speaking about his departure, Abiteboul said that he felt that he was leaving behind a strong base for the French car manufacturer to grow.

While at the moment, not an awful lot can be made of the suddenness accompanying Abiteboul’s exit, it could be said that the move could well have something to do with new management desiring a new direction.

Nonetheless, here’s what Cyril Abiteboul offered:

“I would like to thank the Groupe Renault for having trusted me for many years, particularly with the relaunch and reconstruction of the team since 2016,” he said.

“The solid foundations of the racing team and the entities in France and England built over these years, the strategic evolution of the sport towards a more economically sustainable model, and more recently the Alpine project which provides a renewed sense of meaning and dynamism, all point to a very fine trajectory.”

On his part, Abiteboul, one mustn’t fail to gather, was absolutely loyal to the Renault brand until his very last working day.

Part of that can be made from the very fact that the Paris-born 43-year-old joined the Renault stable immediately after finishing university. While 2007 was his F1 debut year, the period until 2010 saw the Renault strongman who keeps off from social media work extremely hard before becoming the executive director (of the said team).

In the past, Abiteboul also took charge of the Caterham team, which was a 2012 move, albeit not the strongest of his career.

But upon his return to Renault, Cyril Abiteboul dedicated himself to the cause of the unit becoming a works team in 2016.

At a time where the Alpine F1 team would have loved an experienced figurehead to engage in meaningful exchanges with the Alonso-Ocon pairing in what appears to be a fascinating samurai-student alliance, Cyril Abiteboul will be sorely missed.

His decision to leave the team entirely is shocking and beckons intense prognosis as to what may really have occurred?

Apart from the chuckles earned by Ricciardo’s genuine efforts , Renault were, as a matter of fact, moving in the right direction and were inching up north all the time, with nearly every race.

What happens now- stay tuned for more updates.

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