Former Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul is set to become Hyundai Motorsport’s new team principal, according to reports.
It is reported that Abiteboul will take over the reins from his compatriot Julien Moncet, who has been leading operations as the deputy team director.
Should it be confirmed and Abiteboul assumes control, then it will be the first time that he has worked in the rallying and touring car sectors of motorsport, the South Korean outfit two-time Manufacturers’ Champions in the World Rally Championship.
No stranger to the Formula 1 scene, Abiteboul became team principal at Caterham in 2012, before returning to previous employer Renault in 2014 as the new managing director of their Formula 1 team, later taking on the team principal role.
He would depart when the Enstone outfit underwent its transformation into Alpine from 2021.
Abiteboul has remained very much involved in motorsport since then, working as the motorsport advisor for Formula 3 and Formula 2 engine supplier Mecachrome.
Abiteboul’s time in Formula 1 was also memorable for the period of fractious relations between Renault and Red Bull as their partnership broke down, while he also lost a bet with Daniel Ricciardo, resulting in Abiteboul getting a Renault-Honey Badger themed tattoo after Ricciardo took Renault back to the podium at the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.
Could Cyril Abiteboul steer Hyundai to Formula 1?
It is fascinating that Hyundai appear to have settled on Abiteboul as their new motorsport boss, considering that the firm operate in areas of motorsport where the Frenchman does not have prior experience. Is it his Formula 1 experience that they are after?
Formula 1 is at a point where manufacturer interest is arguably at the highest it has ever been, and why wouldn’t it be that way? Formula 1’s audience figures are booming, the calendar is expanding with promoters jockeying to bring the series to their venues, and Formula 1 is heading into a greener future with more electrical power and fully-sustainable fuels.
Audi have already signed up. The German brand will partner Sauber from 2026 to create an Audi works team, with the German brand supplying power units, while Porsche also remain interested after talks with Red Bull reached a dead end.
Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has said that other manufacturers have their eye on the series, so with Abiteboul at the helm, it would not be a surprise if Hyundai were considering taking their first steps into grand prix racing.