Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul has not ruled out a move for Sebastian Vettel for 2021 if Daniel Ricciardo were to leave the team.

Ricciardo is one of the leading drivers out of contract at the end of the season and recent speculation has continued to link him with a possible Ferrari switch for 2021, replacing Vettel, whose contract also expires at the end of the year.

The Australian shocked the F1 paddock when he left Red Bull for Renault in 2019 but he went on to endure a disappointing first season with the French manufacturer as it slipped to fifth in the constructors’ championship.

“I don't want to say 'no' because he's a great driver,” Abiteboul told the French CANAL+ show La Grille when asked whether a swap deal with Ferrari would appeal to him.

“He’s a great champion, we worked together on the engine side, and we won together. But I'm maybe I’m more inspired to work with the drivers of tomorrow than yesterday. It's very harsh to sum it up like that, so please don't sum it up like that to Sebastian!

“We also have an academy of drivers,” he added. “We've got drivers who will maybe be ready in 2021 or 2022, so we've also got to have that mind.

“We created [the Renault Sport Academy] in 2016 with the objective of getting a driver into Formula 1 in 2021. We're going to be in 2021 [soon], obviously.

“There's Christian Lundgaard, who is one option among others, but he's got his season of F2 to do – and we've got a season with Daniel to do.”

However, Abiteboul is convinced Ricciardo wants to remain at Renault and see out the project that attracted him to the Enstone squad in the first place and prove his doubters wrong. 

“[Daniel] will obviously be someone who's very much courted [by other teams],” he explained.

“I worry that things will go quickly, and so we need to be very alert to not lose opportunities [to keep him].

“I think Daniel is… very attached to his decision to go to Renault – which was heavily criticised, notably by certain parts of the British press who didn't understand it.

“I think this idea to build a project which comprises the human, technical and sporting sides is something close to his heart.

“He's someone who is guided by his emotions and I think he wants to show that he can be true to his choice. He wants to show that his choice [to sign for Renault] was a good choice.”

 

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