Renault rivalry with customer McLaren squad 'awkward'

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team RS19.
© Renault F1

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul admits that it's awkward that the squad's primary rival in the constructors standings is their own customer team.

McLaren switched to Renault power units in 2018 after stormy three-year partnership with Honda. The new hook-up has been a big success this year with McLaren currently in fourth place in the constructors championship, putting them 18 points ahead of Renault in the standings.

Abiteboul acknowledges that it's not ideal for Renault to be trailing the one team on the grid using the same power units as themselves.

"It's a bit of an awkward situation," he told "But clearly McLaren's resurrection is also due to a combination of a resurgence on the power unit side and on the chassis side.

"I think they have a better chassis in certain conditions," he conceded, before going on to insist that overall he felt that the R.S.19 was the better package at most venues.

"We have a better car overall and a better chassis in the other conditions," he said. "That's a fact. So I think it's going to be about track characteristics and who is capable of seizing the opportunity offered by the track."

Renault certainly came out on top at the most recent race in Monza, where Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg finished in fourth and fifth positions respectively. McLaren meanwhile managed just one point from Lando Norris finishing in tenth after Carlos Sainz' early retirement.

That's helped Renault halve the gap to McLaren in the championship, with seven races to go in 2019 including this weekend's visit to Singapore.

"It was the target to finish fourth, and it remains the target," said Abiteboul. "It's good to have targets that are challenging to achieve, because that keeps us on our toes.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault F1 Team RS19.

© Renault F1

"There have been a number of tracks where we could have had this type of result, more or less, and it's not happened. I think it only fair that it's happened at least once."

The Monza result has certainly galvanised the team's drivers heading into the next race.

"We’ve made a big swing in the constructors’ championship and the race for fourth is on," said Hulkenberg. "The team left Italy on a real high. The whole weekend was a super effort from everyone.

"We have to develop this now and aim to pick up these kinds of results more regularly," he added. "It’s certainly possible and we won’t be letting up."

"We deserved the double top five finish in Italy," contributed Ricciardo. "We clearly had the pace from the moment we hit the track on Friday and, from there, executed a really good weekend to come away with 22 points.

"It was nice to have my best result for the team," he pointed out, adding: "The challenge excites me!

"We know now there will be eyes on us to repeat that [in Singapore], but I can see no reason why we can’t string together more solid results and really chase down fourth place."

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