Renault not relishing Las Vegas-style fight for sixth

Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul has likened the battle for sixth place in the constructors' championship to Las Vegas, because so much money is on the line in a single race.

Renault not relishing Las Vegas-style fight for sixth
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director in the Press Conference
Carlos Sainz Jr., Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team VF-17
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team
Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, Esteban Gutierrez
Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12

The difference in the F1 prize scale between sixth and seventh is approximately $6.5m, with a slightly smaller jump from seventh to eighth.

Toro Rosso currently holds sixth, four points clear of Renault, with Haas another two behind in eighth.

Nico Hulkenberg will start the Abu Dhabi GP in seventh, and if he finishes in the same position it will enough to vault Renault into sixth place.

Abiteboul admitted he is disappointed that such a significant sum is at stake in a single race.

"I don't like that," he told Motorsport.com. "I'm involved in F1, which is extremely process drive, quality driven, and long-term projects.

"I am not in Las Vegas, so I don't like that position, and having said that, we need to deal with it, and make sure next year it's not the same situation."

Despite the sums involved, Abiteboul says the prestige associated with gaining another place in the table is more important for Renault.

"The money is always a factor. But we are part of the Renault Group, the largest manufacturer in the world.

"Obviously I am accountable for our P&L (Profit and loss statement), and what we cost to the group. But frankly I think sixth position is more important for the motivation, for the reward, and for the sign that this is sending to everyone.

"I think it will also be fair for what has been achieved over the season, for the potential performance of the car and the driver line-up that we have.

"I would like to leave Abu Dhabi on a high, with the motivation that we need for the winter to do what we need to do for where we need to be next year."

Toro Rosso's task of defending its position was made harder by qualifying, which saw Pierre Gasly take 17th.

Brendon Hartley, who has a grid penalty will start 20th.

"It's a big race, of course, because we are talking about a huge amount of money," team boss Franz Tost told Motorsport.com.

"Looking at the grid it's enough for Renault. We are not as competitive as we expected to be. Maybe in the race it looks better, or I hope at least it looks better than in qualifying.

"I just hope that the top teams will finish the race, which means two Mercedes, two Ferraris, two Red Bulls and hopefully also two Force Indias will be front of the others."

Tost admitted that he doesn't expect Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz to make up the difference should the team drop down the order.

"I don't think this will be the case, I have to find the money, it's as simple as that."

Haas remains an outside bet to improve on its current eighth position, with Kevin Magnussen starting 14th, and Romain Grosjean 16th.

"We need to try," said team boss Gunther Steiner. "We've started in this position before and ended up with points, so for sure we're not giving up yet.

"The Toro Rossos are behind us, but we need to make the points, it's not beating them – if we are 11th and 12th it doesn't help us. We need to get points, which will be very difficult, but not impossible in my opinion.

"We need to go there with an open mind, attack and do the best we can, and see what else is coming up. There's nothing else we can do.

"There's no big strategy or no big magic play to be done, it's just go out and race, maybe get a little bit lucky, race hard, try to be there if there's some points to be given out, and see what's happening."

 

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