Renault chief Cyril Abiteboul says the 2017 Formula 1 season finale in Abu Dhabi will become “a championship in itself” as the midfield battle reaches its climax.

After underwhelming results at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Renault appears to accept fifth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship is out of its reach against Williams with a 33-point deficit to overturn.

The French manufacturer is now sharpening its attention on taking sixth place off of Toro Rosso with a four-point gap, but effectively needing five points as it trails the Italian team on results countback, while also keeping guard from Haas who are just two points behind in eighth place.

Consequently, Abiteboul is predicting a three-team tussle in Abu Dhabi for the vital remaining points to take sixth place in the constructors’ standings and with it the extra prize money it delivers.

“This race is almost a championship in itself as we are in a tight battle with Toro Rosso and Haas, and everything is still to play for,” Abiteboul said. “Either one of us could finish between sixth and eighth position so we are being very careful with our preparations.

“We will have to combine an approach that is at the same time attacking, as we need five points more than Toro Rosso to get sixth, but also conservative as we are just two points ahead of Haas.

“We can be positive about our prospects. Abu Dhabi will be the fourth race Nico and Carlos have worked together and we have had two double Q3 performances. They work well together and push each other in the right direction, allowing us to point our development accurately and accelerate elements that add performance to the car.”

The Renault and Toro Rosso scrap will have an extra edge given the public spat between the two teams in Brazil when the Italian squad suggested it had received sub-standard power unit parts after being blamed for a run of engine failures which sparked a furious reaction from Abiteboul.



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