3 July 2014
Changes at Renault Sport F1
Cyril Abiteboul's rumoured return to Renault Sport F1 is just one of a couple of high-profile changes at the engine supplier.
As had been suggested amid the speculation over the future of the Caterham F1 squad, former team principal Cyril Abiteboul has returned to the Renault fold – but that is not the only change at Viry-Chatillon.
With the sale of Caterham's F1 operation confirmed on Wednesday, Abiteboul's exit became apparent, and his return to Renault was announced less than 24 hours later. The Frenchman, who replaced erstwhile Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes at principal of the Leafield-based squad, will fill the newly-created position of managing director of Renault Sport F1, reporting to Jérôme Stoll.
Stoll, in turn, takes on the additional role of president of the F1 arm, replacing Jean-Michel Jalinier, who has decided to .exercise his right to retirement for personal reasons'. Jalinier held the joint roles of president and MD prior to stepping down, while Stoll will combine the presidency with his current responsibilities as chief performance officer and group sales and marketing director.
Jalinier's decision will, whatever the true reason, always be viewed in the reflection of Renault's poor performance at the start of the 2014. Despite clamouring for a change in engine regulations on environmental grounds – a move that was approved at great cost to the teams in an age where they have attempted to curb excessive spending – Renault appeared to be caught out when Mercedes, and to some extent Ferrari, arrived in better shape for pre-season.
The four Renault-powered teams – Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Lotus and Caterham – struggled for reliability in testing, and have since been chasing pace through the first half of the season. While Mercedes has dominated the result, both with its 'works' team and customers Williams, McLaren and Force India, RBR lucked into a win in Canada and currently trails 301-143 in the constructors' standings. That has led to rumours that Red Bull may join forces with Viry to work on engine development, although this remains to be seen.
The latest appointments take effect immediately, ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
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