Renault Formula 1 boss, Cyril Abiteboul has accused Racing Point over its stance on Fernando Alonso’s inclusion in the post season young drivers tests.
The French team has been pushing for the two-time world champion to be allowed to participate for some time, despite opposition from Ferrari, McLaren and Racing Point.
While Ferrari is now looking to have Carlos Sainz participate, McLaren was never going to attend the test anyway as it is changing engine suppliers over the off-season therefore such a test would be pointless.
Racing Point has stood firm in its opposition, and speaking yesterday, after Alonso had been given the all-clear to run, team boss, Otmar Szafnauer was still unhappy about the move.
“I was surprised to see Fernando being allowed to test,” he admitted, when asked if he might now push for Sebastian Vettel to take part, “so we have got to have that discussion with the FIA.
“I think the rules are pretty clear,” he continued, “it’s a young driver test and a two-time world champion almost in his 40s or in his 40s to me isn’t a young driver.
“I’ve got to understand what the rules are first and foremost and then see what we do thereafter.”
Asked, if the rules permit it, he would want Vettel in his car for the test, Szafnauer said: “If we can and the rules permit it and… there’s a bunch of ifs and we’d have to consider it.”
“It’s one day of testing,” sighed Christian Horner. “Is one day really going to change the world?
“We’re allowed to run two cars there. We had no problem with Fernando driving the Renault as we would really if Carlos wanted to drive a Ferrari or Sebastian a Racing Point.
“Is one day going to change the world? But as a young driver test, I’m not sure how Fernando… I’m feeling younger already! The fact that he’s classified as a young driver, maybe we could get Nigel… he never retired, we could get Nigel Mansell to come and do the young driver test!”
Asked about Szafnauer’s comments, Abiteboul said: “There is an indication of young drivers, plus anyone that the FIA will give permission to. And that’s in the absolute right of the FIA to do that.
“So if Otmar wants to build a claim against the FIA, that would be quite rich, keeping in mind that we all know that they have an illegal car,” he added.
“We have accepted to settle that one. But if you want to have a go now at the FIA, I would find it quite ironic.
“Why is it necessary?” he said of Alonso’s participation in the test. “I mean, I’m going to be very straightforward. What’s necessary is to give the team the absolute best possible platform to build upon for next year.
“No one is here for anything other than absolute performance,” he continued, “and when teams are not here for performance, they are doing things for commercial purpose, and when they are doing that for commercial purpose, there are all sorts of critics in relation to that.
“Clearly we are not doing that with Fernando for commercial purposes, we are doing that for the sport, for our own competitiveness. And again, that’s the case of every single entity.
“So, we’ve been very straightforward, we’ve been clear with the FIA, clear with F1 about what we were doing.
“There are limits in what we can do anyway,” he continued. “Frankly, it’s still very much part of Fernando’s going back into shape and stretching his legs. He’s been amazing in the driving of the two-year-old car, we’ve done four days of that. He will have one more day of that. That’s particularly important in the context of next year, we will have only three days to share across the two drivers of winter test.
“I know it’s the same for everyone. But again, that’s also one reason why we’ve asked for that. FIA has taken the time to wait for our request, and has given the permission, but that’s very much around Fernando, rather than around the development of the car.”
The Frenchman was also keen to point out that it is one of the few teams actively developing young talent.
“I don’t think that we can be blamed for not doing lots for young drivers,” he said. “I don’t think that many manufacturers have invested half of what we have invested for young drivers, with our Academy drivers that we are supporting financially, and with our different activities, with Formula Renault Eurocup, a championship in which we have invested since 50 years.
“More than 50 percent of the drivers in F1 today are coming from the ranks of Formula Renault Europcup. So again, we cannot be blamed for not investing into the young drivers.
“But yes, this time round, because we are thinking of next season, because we need to move on from what’s been a great relationship with Daniel and we want to project ourselves in new into a new relationship with Fernando, we ask for that permission which the FIA has the absolute right to grant, and they granted it.
“So, it is what it is, and people simply need to deal with it.”