De Meo: Need for better integration led to Abiteboul exit

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Renault boss Luca de Meo says the need to better integrate the manufacturer's Alpine unit led to the exit of former team boss Cyril Abiteboul.

The Frenchman who had been at the helm of Renault's F1 outfit since the constructor's return to the grid in 2016 was a surprise casualty of the team's management restructuring and rebranding for 2021.

In Bahrain, Sky F1's Ted Kravitz said that his reporting led him to believe that Abiteboul was designated as Renault's fall guy following its failure to secure third place in last season's Constructors' championship.

However, according to de Meo, Abiteboul's departure was rooted in Renault's desire to start afresh with Alpine, with a new management team tasked with steering the outfit into a new direction.

"This question is a little complicated," said the Renault chief executive, quoted by RTL. "With this new story for us, it would have been difficult," [to retain Abiteboul].

De Meo elaborated on what he meant.

"If they needed support [from Renault], they would come. But their comfort zone was to stay away. Now Alpine is absolutely integrated into the mainstream strategy of the Renault Group.

"So you need people who are part of the small, agile unit, but who also at the same time have a connection to the other side [the Group]," added de Meo.

Alpine F1 is currently managed by a two-man team, managing director Marcin Budkowski and racing director Davide Brivio, both of whom answer to Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi, a man chosen by de Meo for his understanding of both the racing and business side of the brand.

"He's an engine engineer," said the Renault CEO. "He's very passionate and he likes to work with the mechanics."

De Meo paid tribute to Abiteboul and also to former Renault Sport boss Jerome Stoll.

"They started in 2016 and said goodbye with a few podium places. But we have to look ahead," concluded the Italian.

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