The former team boss of Daniel Ricciardo has called out the Australian for his 'selfish' move having left Renault in a shock decision back in 2020. Abiteboul made his feelings known at the time when Ricciardo made the big move to leave Renault for McLaren.
Ricciardo left Renault after two frustrating years and partnered Lando Norris. And three years after his comments on Ricciardo, doesn't appear to have changed his mind having labelled the Australian's actions 'selfish' at the time.
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“He makes his decision in April or May; the world is at a standstill, we don’t know how we’re going to get back on track, if we’re going to get back on track,” Abiteboul said in then French podcast, Dans La Boite A Gants, which was translated to English by Planet F1.
“In fact, I think it’s a very early move, a bit selfish – because in the end, it will have given the team just one season’s chance, and so it’s true that it’s a decision that I’m taking badly. Badly.”
Abiteboul said on Drive to Survive in 2021 that it was hard not to take Ricciardo's move personally, considering he thought they were in for a long partnership.
However, Abiteboul was a tad more candid in his latest comments on the podcast when he claimed it felt like a 'personal rejection'. However, one of his most startling reveals was what he thought of the Australian's signing at Renault in 2018.
Abiteboul said that he knew the team was not ready to accomodate a driver like Ricciardo and told his patner it could be the end of his time as boss. “I said to her: ‘Tonight, we toast two things. One, to the fact that we’ve signed Ricciardo, who’s a great driver. Two, to the fact that in two years’ time, I’ll be sacked,'" he said.
“Because you sign a two-year contract and I knew that this would ultimately highlight the fact that the team wasn’t yet at the required level and that this could potentially be interpreted as a bad decision."
Christian Horner weighs-in on Daniel Ricciardo speculation
Recently, Red Bull boss Christian Horner threw his support behind Sergio Perez, declaring the Mexican driver will still be racing for the team in 2024. Speculation has been mounting that Ricciardo will be brought in to replace Perez next year, while there have also been rumours that Red Bull want Fernando Alonso.
Ricciardo started the year as a reserve driver for Red Bull but was promoted to a full-time drive with AlphaTauri three months ago. His form in a sub-par car has led to calls for Red Bull to promote him even further to be Max Verstappen's No.2 driver in 2024.
But Horner made it clear on to motorsport.com that Perez would remain as the second driver in 2024. Perez is currently second in the F1 driver standings on 258 points, behind Red Bull teammate and reigning champion Verstappen.
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