Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says Esteban Ocon will not receive “preferential treatment” this season despite Daniel Ricciardo’s departure from the team at the end of the year.
Ocon is returning to the grid after a year on the sidelines while Ricciardo will conclude his two-year sting with Renault before moving on to McLaren for 2021.
The context in which the two drivers will be racing this season coupled with Ocon’s French nationality have led some to speculate that Renault could be included to put more weight behind its 23-year-old young charger.
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But Abiteboul insists that both men will be on an equal footing when the action kicks off next week in Austria.
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“There won’t be any preferential treatment between Esteban and Daniel on the back of his decision, because it’s not the policy of the team,” Abiteboul told Motorsport.com.
“It’s not also a necessity, let’s be honest, as I’m not fighting for any championship as we stand here right now.
“It would make absolutely no sense, and Daniel will be involved in the development process of the car.”
Formula 1’s regulation freeze for 2021 – which will see teams race with the same chassis as this year and contend with development restrictions – has alleviated fears that a departing driver could take confidential information to his future team.
However, in Ricciardo’s case, Abiteboul also dismissed such a scheme because McLaren is spending all its development tokens on making its car compatible for its Mercedes engine.
“With the way that the structure is, that the cars are more or less frozen between this year and next year, and also McLaren will have to use all their tokens on the pure chassis/engine integration, so no performance development there, that will give us the opportunity to work extremely normally with Daniel,” explained the Frenchman.
“The only thing is he won’t be exposed to 2022. But frankly, he would not be anyway, because it’s still a bit far away from a driver perspective, even though a substantial part of our workforce is already on to 2022.”
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