Former Renault team principal, Cyril Abiteboul, has openly criticized Daniel Ricciardo’s decision to leave the Formula 1 outfit and join McLaren in early 2020, labeling it as a ‘selfish’ move. Despite the delayed start to the 2020 F1 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ricciardo announced his transfer to McLaren in May 2020, ultimately signing a three-year contract.
Ricciardo, who had joined Renault for the 2019 season after five years with Red Bull, opted to leave the French squad, now operating as Alpine, for McLaren for the 2021 season onwards. The domino effect began when Ferrari signed Carlos Sainz, leading McLaren to replace him with Ricciardo, who had been a target for the team since June 2018.
Despite high expectations, Ricciardo’s move to McLaren did not yield the anticipated success. While he won the 2021 Italian Grand Prix, his overall performance at McLaren was deemed a disaster. Struggling to adapt to the car, Ricciardo faced numerous challenges throughout the season.
In August 2022, McLaren decided to terminate Ricciardo’s contract, paying him £10 million to clear the way for Oscar Piastri to join the team for the 2023 season from Alpine’s driver academy. This marked the end of a relationship that yielded only 37 points during the 2022 season.
Cyril Abiteboul, who was ousted as Renault team principal in January 2021 ahead of the rebranding to Alpine, expressed his disappointment with Ricciardo’s decision. Abiteboul believes that Ricciardo’s move was premature and selfish, robbing the team of a fair chance for success.
Speaking on the Dans La Boite a Gants podcast, Abiteboul said, “He makes his decision in April or May. The world is at a standstill. We don’t know how we’re going to get back on track, if we’re going to get back on track. In fact, I think it’s a very early move, a bit selfish because, in the end, it will have given the team just one season’s chance. And so it’s true that it’s a decision that I’m taking badly.”