Cyril Abiteboul made his debut as Hyundai Motorsport team principal at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, prologue of the 2023 WRC. Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe immediately gave him a podium, but also the certainty of having a lot of work to do to try and chase and achieve in Toyota Racing performance.
Abiteboul, however, pleaded for time. The former Renault Sport F1 team principal has let it be understood on several occasions that he does not have a solid foundation regarding knowledge of the WRC, therefore he will have to study a lot these days to arrive at the Swedish Rally – scheduled for February 9 to 12 – more ready than than it was in the Principality.
Hyundai chose him for having a strong leadership, a person who is able to manage the personnel, the drivers, the engineers and give the right direction to the team after a 2022 lived in limbo between the winning era by Adamo and this one, by fact started a few weeks ago.
“It’s too early to tell which areas I would like to improve. I’ve just started my new job, so I think it would be arrogant to think I know. There are people who have been here for years…”.
“For now, I want to create a stronger and more solid team spirit and team organization, which is exactly what Hyundai President Sean Kim expects from me.”
“I think it was appropriate to shed some clarity on responsibilities and structure. I don’t think it is particularly difficult in this organization. In every organization where there has been a clear lack of leadership, everyone takes on their own habits. It is in human style”.
Dani Sordo, Hyundai World Rally Team, Thierry Neuville, Hyundai World Rally Team, Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
“I think we need a structure with clear roles and responsibilities, that’s my main goal.”
Abiteboul, back from several years in Renault – and from the Caterham parenthesis always in the world champion Circus – said he was surprised by what he found in Alzenau. A large structure, with a large staff and everything needed to be able to have high ambitions.
“From the point of view of structure and spaces, it’s all big. If you consider the ratio of square metres/person, it’s really a lot. The scheme is a little different from what I had before in F1: you designed and built a car, You developed it and then threw away the components”.
“There are a lot of spare parts to keep here that take up a lot of space, but I was interested to see that we have all the equipment to design and develop what we need.”
“I was satisfied with the engine on the test bench. We have a good one from AVL. We have all the right ingredients, but we need a project that everyone agrees on. We have talent and equipment, but we need to transform them,” concluded the Parisian manager.