Renault Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says the French manufacturer is talking to “big names” as it seeks to fill the seat that will be vacated by Daniel Ricciardo.
Former world champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have both been linked with the team since it was confirmed that Ricciardo will move to McLaren next year, with Carlos Sainz Jr off to Ferrari, and on Thursday Renault driver Esteban Ocon said he would welcome Alonso as a team-mate in 2021.
Asked on Friday if Vettel and Alonso were of interest to the French manufacturer, Abiteboul declined to comment on specifics, but did outline what the team wants from any future signing.
“We need first a driver for each car,” he said. “We need a quick driver, and we need a driver that can understand and buy into Renault’s project.
“We are very clear about the nature of our team. We are a bit of a unique team in the F1 landscape, but at the same time also a young team, still in the making, with some struggles – in particular last year.
“So we need someone who’s capable to understand all of that, and understand the value of all the work, effort and ethics we are putting into that. I’m not saying that Daniel has not understood that, that’s absolutely not what I mean. I’m talking about the future.
“So we are talking to a few names, some big names, so lesser known names. We are taking the time, making sure there is a good alignment between what we are and what a team is looking to get in a team like ours.”
Abiteboul declined to put any deadline on the driver decision.
If Renault were to look internally to replace Ricciardo, it could turn to its junior ranks with Formula 2 drivers Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard aiming to impress this season.
The Chinese driver starts today’s 2020 F2 opener from pole position at the Red Bull Ring, with Lundgaard claiming fourth place in qualifying ahead of his rookie campaign in the F1 feeder series.