Cyril Abiteboul has warned Red Bull about making a switch to Honda power next season and said they could win the title if they remained with Renault.
The Renault boss was speaking after a rather chaotic opening day of practice for the Enstone team in Canada, with Nico Hulkenberg missing a bulk of FP1 with a gearbox issue and Carlos Sainz smashing the wall in FP2.
But the interest firmly remains in which engine manufacturer Red Bull will choose within the next month and Abiteboul was asked for his assessment on the current situation.
“I understand what they are looking to get,” Abiteboul told Sky Sports F1.
“They are looking to the technical and commercial side, because it is clearly different remaining a customer and partner of Renault versus becoming a works team with Honda.
“It is very different and I appreciate that. But frankly, as far as I am concerned, they have a chance with us to become world champion again. I cannot say for Honda.”
Abiteboul also reaffirmed his desire to continue working with the people he has had a long relationship with in Formula 1.
“It is a complex decision for them and for us,” Abiteboul added.
“But maybe it is my emotional side. I have been working 12 years of pulling my hairs with Christian [Horner] and Helmut [Marko], and I don’t want to lose any of that.
“But frankly, in the construction of the Renault team, I think it is still interesting to get their [Red Bull’s] benchmarking capacity.
“We know where we need to work based on what they are doing.
“They have showed that a Renault engine can win races in straight conditions, so that is a good sign of what we are doing, where we are progressing and where we need to progress.”