Renault Formula 1 chief Cyril Abiteboul has confirmed the team is talking to “some big names” and “some lesser known names” over its spare 2021 seat but will take time over a final decision.

The French manufacturer has a spare seat alongside Esteban Ocon for next season after Daniel Ricciardo signed for McLaren to replace the Ferrari-bound Carlos Sainz, with Sebastian Vettel departing the Scuderia when his contract expires at the end of the year.

Vettel has been linked with Renault, while two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso has also emerged as a contender for the 2021 seat in what would mark his third stint at the Enstone-based squad.

“We are talking to a few names, some big names, and some lesser known names,” Abiteboul said during Friday’s FIA press conference ahead of this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix.

“We are taking the time and we are again making sure there is a good alignment between what we are and what any driver is looking to get in a team like ours.”

Although Abiteboul admitted the team has held discussions with “big names”, he was quick to stress that Renault needs someone who is willing to buy into its long-term project.

Asked if Renault needs a big-name signing for 2021, he replied: “We need first a driver for each car!

“We need a quick driver, we need a talented driver, and we need a driver that can understand and buy into Renault’s project.

“We are very clear about the nature of our team, we are a bit of a unique team in the F1 landscape, at the same time very loyal to Formula 1 but also a young team, still in the making with some struggles, in particular last year.

“We need someone capable to understand all of that and understand the value of all the work, effort and ethic we are putting into that.

“I’m not saying that Daniel has not understood that that is absolutely not what I mean, I’m talking about the future.”

 

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