Renault never considered making a move to re-sign Fernando Alonso for the 2019 Formula 1 season for fear of not being able to match his expectations, according to team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

Renault announced over the summer break it had signed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo to partner Nico Hulkenberg in 2019, acting as one of the most surprising driver moves in recent years.

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Alonso, who won both of his world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006, confirmed two weeks later he would not be racing in F1 next season following four difficult years with McLaren towards the back of the grid.

Despite his decision, Alonso has stressed that interest in him from rival F1 teams was high. The Spaniard claimed Red Bull tried to sign him for 2019 - something Red Bull F1 chief Christian Horner has strenuously denied - and said he had "four or five offers" from teams for 2019, but all were "more than one second away from pole position."

Alonso raced for Renault between 2003 and 2006 before enjoying a second stint with the team in 2008 and 2009, taking 17 race wins with the French manufacturer alongside his two drivers’ championships.

However, Abiteboul said that Alonso did not appear on Renault’s radar for the 2019 season, with the team instead favouring drivers who knew they would be committing to a long-term project that may not provide the ability to fight for wins straight away.

“Frankly, despite the fact that I have huge respect for Fernando, who is probably one of the best drivers in the world, the answer is no,” Abiteboul told Crash.net when asked if the team had considered a move for Alonso.

“We could feel that he is at the point in his career where he wants a car that is immediately capable of going in for wins. That’s what he’s expecting, or there is going to be more frustration.

“We are not in that position. We need to have drivers who can understand the project, who can buy into a support the project on a long-term basis.

“I don’t think this is what Fernando was looking for. So the short answer is no.”

Abiteboul explained how Renault had three main driver options for 2019 to partner Hulkenberg: Ricciardo, Force India’s Esteban Ocon, and current Renault racer Carlos Sainz Jr.

While Abiteboul conceded Ricciardo offered the most “wow effect”, he said the team would have been happy with either Ocon or Sainz as part of its line-up.

“If you look at the three options that we had, I must say, doing more years with Carlos, going with Esteban, or Daniel, all three options were all very valid, and would almost have been equally satisfied with all three options,” Abiteboul said.

“Obviously Daniel has a bit of ‘wow’ effect, because it was not really what people were expecting. But we are not choosing our drivers just to create a wow effect for one day.

“The wow effect will come if we are capable of winning races together in the next two years.”

 

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