Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul has said Red Bull’s hardball stance on Carlos Sainz made it easier for them to then sign Daniel Ricciardo for 2019 and beyond.
Abiteboul said that the Enstone team were looking to extend Sainz’s stay as far back as the French Grand Prix in June, but Red Bull’s refusal to negotiate actually opened up the opportunity for Renault to start talking to Ricciardo instead.
“I think we felt like there was something between Renault and Carlos, and it’s a bit weird, because in the end this allowed us to sign Ricciardo more easily,” revealed Abiteboul.
“It was easier to reach an agreement with Daniel than with Carlos, because clearly Red Bull was blocking our attempt to sign an extension of our agreement with Sainz.
“Honestly, if Red Bull had a less tough position on Carlos, the final result would have been different: after the French Grand Prix we pushed to try to confirm Carlos, but Red Bull did not want to take this step.
“They had the right to do that, but that strangely led them to lose Ricciardo.”
“Surely it was not what they would have expected, but [signing Ricciardo] is the result of their hard opposition to letting us continue with Carlos the moment we were interested in doing so.”
Sainz will still have some connection to Renault as their engines will power McLaren, where the Spaniard will be lining up alongside Lando Norris in an all-new line-up for the Woking team.
And Abiteboul feels Renault and Sainz will still be on good terms in the future as they prepare to go their separate ways.
Abiteboul added: “I’m sure Carlos will play a part in McLaren’s rebirth, and he will continue to use our engines.
“I do not think we’ve burned bridges for the future, we still have things to do together.”