Rare winter F1 News! Cyril leaves Renault. McLaren to Formula E?

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Cyril Abiteboul leaving Renault
Image: renaultsport.com

The winter off-season is not the time for F1 news. Any morsel of information from the Formula One world is the best excitement we can get in January. Morsels like, y’know an expected green livery all but being confirmed as being green. What kind of website would even cover that? Well, today was a treat as one tidbit emerged from McLaren shortly before a bombshell fell from Renault.

The tidbit first to whet your appetite, because you probably blindly clicked this article and have no idea what is happening at Renault. Well, some electrifying news from McLaren who are possibly considering Formula E! Not content with their Indy 500 exploits, it seems the Woking outfit really want to get wired into different racing series. But it’s a little too early to get charged up over this.

So the “news” here is that McLaren are signed up to have the option of joining the 2022/23 Formula E season. No commitments, but it shows a high level of interest from the British manufacturer. Having the first refusal and signing up are two very different things, of course. But with the all-electric sport reeling from the news that Audi and BMW are to leave after this season, a higher chance of victory may entice McLaren in. There’s a long way to go to get there for this to become actual news, though.

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Not so for today’s announcement from Renault. The shock news (wait, we’ve moved away from electric puns now, sorry) from Enstone is that Cyril Abiteboul will leave Renault. We haven’t got that wrong on a technicality of them being rebranded as Alpine for 2021. Abiteboul is leaving the entire Renault company after a twenty-year stint.

No further information has come out about the how’s and the why’s. Perhaps he refused to get the tattoo design from Daniel Ricciardo? In any case, Laurent Rossi, the Director of Strategy and Business Development, will find himself responsible for Alpine as they move towards their first season in their rebrand. Rossi has no F1 experience. As such, we expect a replacement Team Principal to be announced in due course, or at least a leadership restructure.

Although Renault took advantage of poor races from the Mercedes/Red Bull leaders in 2020 to clinch three podiums, this evidently was not enough. Their return to F1 in 2016 can hardly be branded a success. Whether or not this is solely down to Abiteboul is debatable. Becoming a championship-contending team would take some time and likely a regulation change. With the rules changing for 2022 perhaps new CEO, Luca de Meo, wants a bedding-in period for Abiteboul’s successor to launch an earnest title offensive next year.

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