Renault won't favour Ocon in 2020 as Ricciardo plays down possible 'awkwardness'

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Renault has ruled out shifting focus more onto Esteban Ocon despite Daniel Ricciardo's departure at the end of this year.

Despite being expected to lead the French manufacturer's bid to challenge for 'best of the rest' this season, Ricciardo's position in the team would appear pretty weak as he prepares to join McLaren in 2021.

Indeed, it might be thought that Renault could use this season to build Ocon up to lead the team next year, depending on how is chosen to replace the former Red Bull driver.

However: “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,” Abiteboul said, in a video call with the media last weekend.

“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.”

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Much like McLaren, who said they would remain an "open book" with Carlos Sainz until he leaves for Ferrari, Abiteboul explained why the team is less concerned about hiding things from Ricciardo than normal.

“With the way that the structure is, 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,” he said.

“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.”

Ricciardo also played down the possibility of meeting some unhappy colleagues when they reunite this weekend in Austria.

"Maybe the first time I see some people in the team there might that moment of perhaps...I don't know if the word is awkwardness. I went through it a couple of years ago," said the Australian reflecting on his Red Bull exit in 2018.

"But I think because time has passed since the news now, I've spoken to - if not seen - some members of the team, and it's really back to business.

"We're all excited to get racing again, as we know in a week, and hopefully we get a bundle of races, and we get a chance to finish this out strong.

"From my side, it's certainly put behind me, and that [his switch to McLaren] is not in my train of thought at the moment, and it won't be until next year. We'll just get on with it."

Renault F1 - Ricciardo Ocon