‘Big names’ in contention for 2021 Renault seat

Jamie Woodhouse

Renault aren’t giving many details away about a replacement for Daniel Ricciardo, but have said they are talking to “big names”.

Ricciardo will call time on his brief spell with Renault at the end of 2020, and he will then make the move to McLaren for 2021.

He will replace Carlos Sainz who is heading to Ferrari for next year, leaving Renault with a spot to fill.

Christian Lundgaard and Guanyu Zhou are Renault’s Academy drivers who are reportedly in the running for that 2021 seat, while more established names in the forms of Fernando Alonso, Valtteri Bottas and Sebastian Vettel have been linked.

And Renault have confirmed they are talking to “big names”, though only a driver who is committed to their Formula 1 project will get the job.

Speaking during the Friday press conference, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told Motorsportweek.com: “We need first a driver for each car!

“We need a quick driver, we need a talented driver, and we need a driver that can understand and buy into Renault’s project.

“We are very clear about the nature of our team, we are a bit of a unique team in the Formula 1 landscape, at the same time very loyal to Formula 1 but also a young team, still in the making with some struggles, in particular last year.

“We need someone capable to understand all of that and understand the value of all the work, effort and ethic we are putting into that.

“I’m not saying that Daniel has not understood that – that is absolutely not what I mean, I’m talking about the future.

“We are talking to a few names, some big names, some lesser known names, we are taking the time and we are again making sure there is a good alignment between what we are and what any driver is looking to get in a team like ours.”

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Mercedes have confirmed that Lewis Hamilton and Bottas are their desired line-up for 2021, but team boss Toto Wolff said Vettel is an option if either of them decided to leave.

Alonso meanwhile has recently distanced himself it seems from the 2021 Renault seat.

That would leave Vettel then as the most likely option out of the three, though he said he would only remain in the sport if he had the right package.

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