Abiteboul: Renault 'benchmark' instigated changes at McLaren

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Renault F1's Cyril Abiteboul believes the French outfit acted as a benchmark for McLaren last year and indirectly incited the Woking-based team to undergo its transformation.

After four very lean years, McLaren has taken a significant step forward in 2019 and is set to conclude its season as F1's top midfield contender.

It's still a long road to the front of the grid, but McLaren's progress is undeniable and serves as a validation of the important transformation undergone by the team's management and technical structures in the past 15 months.

Asked during Friday's team principal's media conference how he felt about Renault being defeated by its customer team, Abiteboul praised McLaren, but also suggested that Renault had perhaps encouraged the papaya squad to undergo its metamorphosis.

"You know, we were beaten by our customer, OK, but when I’m not beaten by my customer I’m beaten by McLaren, and McLaren is a great team," Abiteboul said, sitting alongside McLaren boss Zak Brown.

"McLaren has had its difficulty but I think maybe something that Zak has not mentioned, but he could have mentioned, is the fact that sometimes you need to change some stuff to really understand where you’re at, and what needs to be changed and what needs to be made stronger.

"I think that when they came to Renault we were a benchmark. Not a benchmark in the sense that we were the best but at least McLaren knew what the Renault engine was capable of doing with Red Bull at the time.

"I think that really put a light on what needed to be changed in their organization and they have done that. They have taken action, based on that information."

Abiteboul says Renault, as a works team, is now going through its own transformation, albeit with a bit of a delay. And interestingly, a key element recently added to Enstone's organization is a former McLaren man.

"I think we are doing the same, in fairness, a bit later, but we are still doing the same," added the Frenchman.

"We know what our engine is capable of doing. In my opinion it is the engine that most progressed over the winter, right there, probably at the top in race conditions.

"So that’s good, but obviously it’s not enough. So we had to take action and we have reacted with exactly what we’ve done.

"We restructured the aerodynamic department. We recruited someone who actually is no stranger to probably the resurrection of McLaren – Pat Fry – and that will not stop there.

"I think that what matters is being able to constantly assess where we are strong and where we are weak.

"That’s what McLaren has done and that’s what also we have done and react, that’s also what we are doing."

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