Renault 'as quick or quicker' than McLaren - Abiteboul

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Renault F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul expects the French outfit to resume its battle with McLaren in Austria, but the Frenchman also believes the works team is faster than its rival.

At Paul Ricard last weekend, McLaren's driver clearly outpaced their Renault counter-parts in qualifying and on race day although a technical issue in the closing stages of the French Grand Prix saw Lando Norris fall into the clutches of Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg.

Abiteboul is convinced Renault's R.S.19 is faster than McLaren's MCL34 in race trim, but he also acknowledged that the papaya squad's superior performance in qualifying in France provided its drivers with an edge on Sunday.

"We've seen that we are just as quick if not quicker than McLaren when not held back, but obviously McLaren was so much faster in qualifying, and that's what matters the most in current F1," said the Renault chief.

"On different compounds and on the longer runs we are much more competitive against them and the rest of the field.

"That's going to be the focus in Austria, where probably it's going to be extremely hot, and we know the track can be extremely damaging for the tyres."

McLaren enjoys an 8-point lead over Renault in the Constructors' standings and Abiteboul expects the manufacturer and its customer team to lock horns all the way to Abu Dhabi.

"We are not miles away, and we were much faster than them in Montreal," he added. "What I expect is to see an interesting battle with McLaren for the remainder of the season

"They are ahead, only the points matter, only the Sunday result matters. We put ourselves after qualifying, looking at the qualifying, but looking at the race, it's much more on par.

"But again, the only thing that matters in modern F1 is firstly the points and secondly the qualifying, because it's so difficult to overtake, either because of the aerodynamics or the current stance of the FIA on these things."

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