After living for many years at the top of Formula 1 at Renault, he came to the rallies in Monte Carlo, and in five events he already looks like one of the World Cup family. Cyril Abiteboul, the ‘boss’ of the Hyundai team, He has clear ideas and talks about the past, present and future.
– How have you experienced this change from Formula 1 to rallies?
– There are many new things, but my contribution will not be to make comparisons with Formula 1 because they are different. Both are motorsport disciplines, but in Formula 1 you try to have everything under control and in rallies there are many things that cannot be controlled. The interactions between team members and drivers are different. I spent fifteen years in Formula 1 and I wanted to continue in this sport, but with something new and this was a perfect path.
– Do you appreciate the friendly atmosphere of rallies more?
– Despite appearances that there is not a good atmosphere in Formula 1, it is not like that. It is a big family as it happens here, in the rallies. The same thing happens: there is a lot of rivalry, great fights, but they are great families.
– How have you experienced your visits to the stages in Portugal?
– The proximity of the public to the stages, to the cars, is good, but it is a pity that there are so few official cars. People go to great lengths to go there to see a small number of official cars. That is one of the things that must be tried to change. It’s a great show, but in Portugal there were only five or six official cars running, and people drive and walk many kilometers to see only those few cars. Even so, there is a lot of passion as I have seen in the stages. You have to get more teams involved, not just brands, so that there are more cars and drivers, but it’s complicated because it’s a very expensive sport. A significant effort must be made to reduce costs.
– Unfortunately, a few weeks ago a Hyundai driver, Craig Breen, passed away. How has he lived it?
– It’s hard to think about it again. It was a very difficult moment, but we are professionals. We have been very aware of family and friends, and the response from the sports community has been very nice. In the team we have had to make a significant effort to overcome it and move on. We are thinking of signing another pilot. It’s hard, but we have to do it, although the choice will not be easy and I still can’t give names.
– Are you happy with your team?
– I will be completely happy when we achieve victories. We are consistently on the podiums, and that is good, but it is clear that we have to think about winning. Drivers, co-drivers and the rest of the team have to work to achieve it and fight for the team.
– How do you rate Dani Sordo?
– We love Dani. All the team. Always smiling. He is one of those types of people, and he is also very honest in his opinions of the team, the car and also himself. In Monte Carlo I was not at all happy with his performance, and yet the contrast has been in Portugal, where he has achieved the performance we want from him. We want him to stay with Hyundai in the future, but he is not yet defined in what role.
– In the past you have also worked with other Spanish drivers such as Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz. What memories do you have of them?
– They are very involved, professional, disciplined and very rational pilots. At the same time they are Latinos and I have a good connection with those types of people. De Carlos is impressed by his attention to all details, particularly the mechanical part of the car, as if he were an engineer, and has helped improve the car since he was at Toro Rosso. Fernando needs no introduction. He is probably the most complete driver on earth and it is a joy to see him at the top of Formula 1 again.