A familiar face might be returning to motorsport in the not so distant future, as Cyril Abiteboul is set to be announced as Hyundai’s WRC team principal.
The South Korean carmaker has been linked with the Frenchman for a little now, after it was initially reported last month by Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure that the 45-year-old was set to lead their World Rally Championship team in 2023.
This rumour has since intensified following yet further speculation that the team’s deputy boss Julien Moncet is going to leave, with the team’s manager Pablo Marcos having already resigned.
In 2022, Hyundai claimed five impressive victories thanks to Estonian driver Ott Tanak and Belgian driver Thierry Neuville; however, the side claimed second in the Constructors’ Championship.
Tanak finished second in the Drivers’ Championship, with his highlights being victories in Italy, Finland, and Belgium.
Neuville, claimed third in the Drivers’ Championship, with his personal highlights being victories in Greece and Japan.
The side will be hoping that Abiteboul can lead them to the top step in both standings; however, the Frenchman might have his eyes on a bigger target at Hyundai.
Hyundai are one of a number of manufacturers who are rumoured to be looking into joining Formula 1 once the new engine regulations are introduced, with Abiteboul perhaps seeing this as his way back into the pinnacle of motorsport.
Abiteboul has previously been the team principal of Caterham and Renault in F1, with his time at the latter having ended when the Enstone-based side became known as Alpine.
Other than that, the Frenchman has been an advisor for Formula 2 engine supplier Mecachrome, a role that he held last season.
He famously had a bet with Daniel Ricciardo when the Australian driver raced for Renault during 2019 and 2020, where the pair agreed that if the 33-year-old claimed a podium, then Abiteboul would get a tattoo.
Following Ricciardo’s rostrum at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Abiteboul kept to his word and got a tattoo, one that Ricciardo was reportedly jealous of.
He also became somewhat of a star in Netflix’s F1 docuseries ‘Drive to Survive’, where he comically mocked Red Bull boss Christian Horner when they signed Ricciardo from them.