‘Racing Point YDT criticism rich, they have illegal car’

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso Renault test

Renault’s Cyril Abiteboul says Racing Point questioning Fernando Alonso’s young driver test is “quite rich” given that they have an “illegal car”.

Alonso has been cleared to run at this year’s post-season young driver test in Abu Dhabi even though he has 311 starts to his name and two World titles.

The FIA have changed the rules for this year so that any driver who didn’t compete in the 2020 season can test.

That has also cleared the way for Alfa Romeo to run Robert Kubica while Red Bull will use Sebastien Buemi.

Racing Point chief Otmar Szafnauer says he was “surprised” to see Alonso included in the line up and will take it up with the FIA.

“I’ve got to understand the rules,” he said. “I was surprised to see Fernando being allowed to test, so we have got to have that discussion with the FIA.

“I think the rules are pretty clear – it’s a young driver test and a two-time World Champion almost in his forties or in his forties to me isn’t a young driver.

“I’ve got to understand what the rules are first and foremost, and then see what we do thereafter.”

Abiteboul has laughed off the pink Mercedes team’s complaints.

“There is an indication of young drivers, plus anyone that the FIA will give permission to,” he told Motorsport.com. “And that’s in the absolute right of the FIA to do that.

“So if Otmar wants to build a claim against the FIA, that would be quite rich, keeping in mind that we will know that they have an illegal car.

“We have accepted to settle that one. But if you want to have a go now at the FIA, I would find it quite ironic.”

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Alonso will drive the RS20 on one of the two days with Guanyu Zhou in action on the other.

Abiteboul makes no bones about wanting to do what is best for Renault ahead of the 2021 season.

“Why is it necessary?,” he said. “I mean, I’m going to be very straightforward. What’s necessary is to give the team the absolute best possible platform to build upon for next year.

“No one is here for anything other than absolute performance, and when teams are not here for performance, they are doing things for commercial purpose, and when they are doing that for commercial purpose, there are all sorts of critics in relation to that.

“Clearly we are not doing that with Fernando for commercial purposes, we are doing that for the sport, for our own competitiveness. And again, that’s the case of every single entity.

“So, we’ve been very straightforward, we’ve been clear with the FIA, clear with F1 about what we were doing.”

He added: “There are limits in what we can do anyway. Frankly, it’s still very much part of Fernando’s going back into shape and stretching his legs.

“He’s been amazing in the driving of the two-year-old car, we’ve done four days of that. He will have one more day of that. That’s particularly important in the context of next year, we will have only three days to share across the two drivers of winter test.

“I know it’s the same for everyone. But again, that’s also one reason why we’ve asked for that. FIA has taken the time to wait for our request, and has given the permission, but that’s very much around Fernando, rather than around the development of the car.”

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