Renault suffered from a lack of technical leadership despite investment

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Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul admits the team suffered from a lack of technical leadership as their Enstone operation grew.

The French manufacturer made strong gains initially after taking over the remains of Lotus in 2016 but last year saw that process stall somewhat as they failed to break away from the midfield pack.

Notably, despite strong gains on the engine side, it was the chassis which proved the weak link and that led to a turnover in the technical team with former McLaren engineer Pat Fry and ex-Williams designer Dirk de Beer coming in. 

“It looks like we were missing something in the technical leadership of the team in the ability to pull all the resources that we put together,” Abiteboul explained via Motorsport.

“We talk a lot about figures and headline numbers like the 750 people in Enstone now. It’s huge and there has been lots of investments: £15 million of investment.

“But you know, all of that needs to be driven by a force and we felt that we were a bit weak in technical leadership. Therefore, that led to the recruitment of Pat.”

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Despite acknowledging the shortcomings in the chassis, the Renault boss claims results that wasn't the only problem.

“I think in the first part of this season we had a decent car,” he said.

“But it was not very visible because we did not manage to get the results or score the points that we could have at the time, given the theoretical competitiveness of our car against our competitors.

“There were different types of reasons for that: reliability of the engine, operation at the track and a bit of strategy.

“Plus a bit the drivers, particularly Daniel [Ricciardo] getting used to the car, that unfortunately cost us some points at the time where we were in decent shape."

However, Abiteboul did conclude the direction with the car was ultimately the main issue.

“When we were expecting to bring the car to the next level, it didn’t really work," he conceded.

“So we discovered that there was a sort of limit for the development of the car given the choices that were made in terms of the overall philosophy.

“That was the story of the second part of the season. It was more difficult being out-developed by teams around us, plus McLaren benefiting from the progress we had made on the engine, and the progress that we kept on coming in the course of the season.”