Renault says no other manufacturer “has invested half of what we have” in young drivers as it responded to criticism of Fernando Alonso’s impending presence at the Abu Dhabi test.
The post-season test had been earmarked for young drivers but Renault has successfully lobbied the FIA for Alonso to participate as he continues preparations for his 2021 return with the team.
It is understood that several other teams may now push the FIA to field more experienced drivers at the one-day test at the Yas Marina Circuit on December 15.
But Renault team boss Cyril Abiteboul has dismissed Renault’s critics, pointing to its own driver development platform, and the presence of junior categories backed by the operation.
“We have been very straightforward, we have been clear with the FIA and F1 about what we are doing,” Abiteboul said on Alonso’s impending run in the R.S.20.
“Having said that I don’t think we can be blamed for not doing lots for young drivers.
“I don’t think that any manufacturer has invested half of what we have invested for young drivers.
“[We have] our Academy, the young drivers we are supporting financially and with different activities, we have Formula Renault Eurocup, a championship in which he have invested 50 years, and more than 50 per cent of the drivers in Formula 1 today have come through the rank of Formula Renault Eurocup.
“We cannot be blamed for not invested into the young drivers.
“But, yes, this time around, because we are thinking of next season, we need to move on from what has been a great relationship with Daniel [Ricciardo] and want to project ourself onto a new relationship with Fernando.
“We asked for permission, and they granted it, so it is what it is and people simply need to deal with it.”
It is understood that Ferrari is now eager to run new signing Carlos Sainz while Red Bull may run Sebastien Buemi and Alfa Romeo could field Robert Kubica.