Renault won't make "crazy" promises amid Alonso rumours
Renault insists it will not make any "crazy" promises in a bid to lure a Formula 1 superstar like Fernando Alonso for 2018, as it insists it only wants drivers who are willing to buy in to the outfit being a long-term project.
Alonso's ongoing frustrations at McLaren-Honda have already seen him linked with a potential reunion of the Renault partnership that led him to his two world titles in 2005 and 2006.
But although such a move makes sense for both sides, Renault F1's managing director Cyril Abiteboul thinks it would be wrong to try to pull of a deal by over-promising what can be achieved in 2018 – because that then opens the door for disappointment down the road if expectations are not met.
"I am not here to pull off a one-off coup with someone, I am not living in the past," Abiteboul told Motorsport.com about whether Renault was ready for a driver like Alonso in 2018.
"I started working in F1 when Flavio [Briatore] and Fernando were in this group together at Enstone, so I am emotionally touched by this period. But equally circumstances have changed, we need also to have a final line-up that will be the right one for the future.
"I don't think next year we will be in a position to fight for the championship. So we need a driver who can support us in this ultimate fight for the championship, but be prepared to wait for the time to come for this to happen."
While Abiteboul is cautious about the plans for 2018, he has no doubts however that getting top-line drivers on board longer term is essential if Renault is to get back to winning ways.
"There is not a driver who will move you from Group 2 to Group 1, that is for sure. But when you are in Group 1, wait for a couple of races, maybe wait for a year, and stability of regulations, and then every single detail will count.
"I think we are moving towards a driver formula rather than a team/car formula, after some point of stability. If you look into it, if you look at our development, hopefully we will be in a position to be part of the top team [group] in two years' time.
"Then the regulations will have stabilised, and everyone will have sort of converged. And by that point it will be crucial, it will be paramount, to have a driver who is capable of making that sort of last contribution to be the best.
"It will be important, and we intend to play a role in that. But we don't intend to do some crazy things because we know our situation and we need to project ourselves in time."
While Alonso has agreed with current team McLaren not to commit elsewhere until they hold talks over the summer, Renault too says it wants to wait some more time to judge its current line-up as well.
Nico Hulkenberg is on a long-term deal and has already delivered some impressive showings so far this season in qualifying, while Jolyon Palmer produced his first Q3 effort in Bahrain.
Abiteboul added: "We need to be fair to our line-up – I need to see how our line-up is performing and delivering.
"Frankly we are just a few races into the season so I don't want to say anything in relation to one particular driver – so that is the first element.
"Then I think it is so important to be synchronised between drivers – potential expectation and team/car package potential, because there is no point in having a driver that will be so frustrated with the situation.
"With Nico [Hulkenberg] we have turned it into a long-term programme and we understand where we are going. We have been very transparent about what will be our situation this year, but he also knows what we are doing in order to be in a better situation in years to come.
"But Nico is also capable, he is at a point in his career where he is capable of projecting himself to a certain point of time. That is something to take into account."
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