When it appeared that the Aussie was becoming increasingly likely to leave Red Bull, there was certainly widespread surprise to see him rock up at Renault, effectively taking a step down on the grid.
Abiteboul, though, feels the press, particularly those from Britain, cannot see the emotion involved from Ricciardo in making such a decision.
“I think Daniel cares a lot about his move to Renault, which was criticised by some media – British media – who don’t understand it,” Abiteboul told the ‘La Grille’ programme on Canal+.
“This idea of building a project on the human, technical and sporting side matters to him.
“He’s someone who is guided by his emotions and he wants to show he can stick to his decision, as long as it proves to be a good one.
As for whether Renault can convince Ricciardo to sign a new deal with the team, Abiteboul was pretty neutral in his response – especially now the season is on hold.
“We’ve got to retain him [Ricciardo] based on good foundations, shared foundations,” he added.
“The project is what matters. I’m answering the question without really answering it, but I think we need to wait and see the first races.
“Have we made a step forward? Are we recovering a little more confidence compared to last year? Is he still integrating better within the team? Then, if we feel like we’ve got a long-term project, why not?”