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Abiteboul: Engines unlikely to sway Ricciardo decision

NEWS STORY
01/05/2018

One of several drivers out of contract at the end of the year, and likely to kick-start the mother of all games of musical chairs once he does make a decision, Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul doesn't believe that prospective employers engine partnerships will play a significant role when Daniel Ricciardo finally makes a decision.

Linked with Mercedes and Ferrari, though neither has made an approach, his current team, Red Bull will either continue with Renault or follow sister outfit Toro Rosso and switch to Honda power.

"The four engine manufacturers are very close from one another, particularly in race conditions," Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul told Reuters.

"There is still a gap in qualifying, we know that," he continued, "we are working around that on a number of areas. There will be some stuff coming hopefully later this season, I'm pretty sure that Honda are working on the same plan.

"In my opinion, the gap will not be bigger from the gap we used to have from the previous set of regulations," he added, referring to next season.

Speaking in Azerbaijan, Ricciardo dismissed speculation that he is holding back on a decision as he waits to see what engine Red Bull opts for, he also insists this is not the thinking behind his plan to only agree a two-year deal.

"I wouldn't just go somewhere else just for a change," he told reporters. "If I did move on obviously I'd want to make sure it was something I feel would potentially be better.

"The real requirement obviously is to try and put myself in a position to win a World title," he added. "That doesn't mean where I am currently is not that place but I think that's why I'm trying to take my time with it because it's still too early.

"Obviously we won the last race, that was great but realistically we need to win more than just once in the season to fight for a title so that's why I'm going to take my time, but that's the priority for sure and I guess the financials and all that are definitely behind that."

Asked if the post-2020 regulations would have a bearing on his decision, he said: "I haven't thought about it too much. We're aware of it but I don't know if I'm concerned about it.

"I don't know. I feel like every year something changes, as in like life changes, things change, so looking beyond, like two years after this, seems like a long way away so that's more for that but for the sport itself, I think all us drivers will do what we can to make it - any change - to make it for the better, we will, for the racing, for the atmosphere, for all of that.

"We are, let's say, investing some time in those discussions, amongst us drivers, but I'm not necessarily concerned about the sport or where it's going. But yeah, for me personally, I think just thinking about 2021 now seems like a long time away."

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