Sky F1 presenter Ted Kravitz has attempted to shed light on why former team principal Cyril Abiteboul abruptly left Renault this winter.
Abiteboul is no longer part of Renault’s Formula 1 set-up since the company switched the branding of their team to Alpine.
Instead, rather than naming an actual team principal, Alpine are being run by executive director Marcin Budkowski, who had worked with Abiteboul, and racing director Davide Brivio, a January arrival from the Suzuki MotoGP team.
Above them is Laurent Rossi, the Alpine CEO, which means there was no longer a place for Abiteboul, who was best known in F1 for his volatile relationship with Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner and for the well-documented ‘tattoo bet’ he struck with Daniel Ricciardo.
Kravitz, during the Ted’s Notebook programme on Sky Sports following the Bahrain Grand Prix, was keen to stress his version of events had not been validated by the Alpine team.
But he was confident enough of the information to broadcast it, saying the 43-year-old Parisian had simply paid the price for Renault finishing fifth in the 2020 Constructors’ World Championship when they had been well in the running to bag third.
“Before the end of last season we thought Cyril might be going up to a higher position,” said Kravitz.
“But that didn’t work out when they finished fifth in the Constructors’ last year and it seems Luca de Meo, the Renault CEO, decided Cyril Abiteboul should be made accountable, or carry the can, effectively, for finishing no higher than fifth.”
However, Kravitz, in passing on his best wishes to Abiteboul, also said he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see the former Renault boss back in Formula 1 in the future.
He added that the reason why nothing had been formally announced about Abiteboul’s absence from proceedings was probably due to employment law and procedures.
Another new name at Alpine in what is a largely fresh start for the team is that of Fernando Alonso, who has taken over from Ricciardo in the driver line-up alongside Esteban Ocon.
The 2021 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix did not mark a strong start for the team as they failed to score any points, although Alonso was running in the top 10 when forced to retire with a brake problem while Ocon finished 13th.