Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul felt compelled to reassure Jolyon Palmer ahead of yesterday’s British GP that his drive with the French outfit was safe.
The rumor mill was spinning yesterday morning in the Silverstone paddock with stories coming out of German media that Palmer was set to be replaced at Renault by Carlos Sainz as soon as the Hungarian Grand Prix.
A visibly irritated Abieteboul took his driver aside before yesterday’s race and reassured the Brit on his near-term future.
“I have completely dismissed speculation of him being replaced in Budapest,” he told Motorsport.com.
“It’s not good, particularly on Sunday morning.
“When I found out the proportion it had taken on the media side I made it clear to everyone that there was absolutely nothing true in that, and I told that to Jo directly.
“I wanted to clear that off his mind before the start.”
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After qualifying P11 on Saturday, Palmer endured another miserable day on Sunday, parking his RS17 at the end of the formation lap after a sudden hydraulic leak took its toll.
“We are extremely sorry and frustrated for Jo,” Abiteboul said.
“I’m sure that with all that happened today, and looking at the pace of Nico, he would have had the capacity to be in the points.
“So extremely sorry, and all our apologies. There is no good moment, but it was definitely not a good moment. He knows that he has our support, and our commitment.”
Aware that Renault has not held up its end of the bargain, Abiteboul pointed to Nico Hulkenberg’s performance as a reason for Palmer to take solace.
“I think the potential of the team, and the potential of the car, is there. And that is the easiest way to rebuild confidence and motivation,” Abiteboul suggested.
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“Even though it has been two tough back-to-backs I think we would race tomorrow given the prospects that we have today.
“Our first priority is to get our act together on reliability, in particular on his side.”
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