Abiteboul defends 'no car' Renault launch

Feb.13 (GMM) Cyril Abiteboul has defended the decision to proceed with Renault’s 2020 ‘launch’ without even revealing an actual car.

Just days before Wednesday’s event in Paris, the French team admitted that the 2020 car would not actually be “physically present” in the room.

Indeed, only obvious renderings of the 2020 car were shown on a screen above the team figures and drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon, and the virtual car was depicted in an all-black temporary livery.

Team boss Abiteboul explained that the normal routine of putting together a car for an official launch is frustrating, as the ‘real’ new car is always being built at the same time ahead of the first day of winter testing.

“We are on schedule but physically the new car is not yet ready,” he said.

“On that basis, our only option is to have fake cars, show cars, altered to look like this year’s car and for me that’s a waste of money.

“So rather than that, (we have) no car. For anyone interested in the car, look at the pictures next week.”

With the ‘launch’ also delayed an hour, it was therefore a dubious start to Renault’s 2020 campaign, having openly underperformed last year.

“The main thing for us was not to repeat the mistakes of last year with this new car,” said technical boss Marcin Budkowski.

The ‘RS20’ is an evolution of its struggling predecessor, and 2020 will also be the last year in Daniel Ricciardo’s lucrative contract.

The Australian used the launch event on Wednesday to declare himself on the driver market for 2021.

Asked whether he would accept an incoming phone call from Ferrari, Ricciardo smiled: “Mate, to be honest, I’m obviously answering all calls.

“You know I signed a two year deal with Renault, but for me this is like year one in terms of making things happen with this team.”

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