Renault F1 team principal Cyril Abiteboul insists Daniel Ricciardo will receive the same priority as team-mate Esteban Ocon despite announcing his departure from the team for next year before he has turned a competitive wheel in 2020.

The Australian joined Renault in 2019 on a two-year contract, but an underwhelming campaign had already raised doubts about Ricciardo’s future even before the COVID-19 lockdown pushed the start of the 2020 season back to July.

As such, Ricciardo and Renault find themselves in the unusual position of having confirmed his exit from the team before this upcoming season has even begun.

With Abiteboul’s veiled dig at Ricciardo in the immediate wake of the announcement – with a statement preaching the importance of key values such as ‘commitment’ – , speculation was raised that it could see Ricciardo slide down the pecking order in the team behind new signing Ocon.

However, Abiteboul says Renault cannot afford to focus its attentions on a single driver in its efforts to close the gap to the front, vowing to treat Ricciardo just as favourably as Ocon.

"There won't be any preferential treatment between Esteban [Ocon] and Daniel on the back of his decision, because it's not the policy of the team,” he told media ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix. "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.

“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.

"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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