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Abiteboul plots simulation expansion for Hyundai WRC team

Hyundai boss Cyril Abiteboul wishes to strengthen and expand the World Rally Championship squad’s use of digital simulation to improve the performance of its i20 N Rally1 car.

Cyril Abiteboul, Team principal Hyundai World Rally Team

The former Renault Formula 1 boss, who took over as team principal of the South Korean marque in January, revealed his initial key objectives for the team last month, including a refinement of the team’s structure, roles, communication and decision making.

In addition to this, the Frenchman stated an ambition to make the squad “more engineering led”, with the latest part of this project being a stronger focus on digital simulation following a similar path well travelled in F1.

This wish to improve the simulation side of the team arrives following a reduction of test days from 28 to 21 as part of the FIA’s move to control costs for teams.

“We are working on that,” Abiteboul told Autosport when asked about the progress made on improving the team’s engineering focus.

“There is a bit more going on in the factory where I would like to have bigger and stronger group in terms of simulation and vehicle performance and so on. We have a bit of that but I want to make it stronger than what it is now. At the moment physical testing is so limited. That is work that is going on.

“The next thing I think we need to do as a group is be bit clearer on the roles and responsibilities and accountability of different members of the management. We do not have a technical director yet for the time being so that is an area I am working on, so there is a clear structure within the team.”

While Hyundai currently operates without a dedicated technical director, unlike rivals Toyota and M-Sport Ford, it has placed former deputy team director Julien Moncet back in charge of powertrains with Christian Loriaux its technical consultant.

However, Abiteboul is keen establish a technical leader within in the team.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Austral / Hyundai Motorsport

“We have got great people that need to be given a bit of stability and that goes with a clarification of their roles and responsibilities," he added.

"Julien is a key person for that, so is Christian, and it is now my responsibility to make sure everyone knows what they have to do and what the have to deliver.

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“I haven’t said there will be a technical director but there needs to be technical leader, just to be clear.

“I also want to know where WRC is going from a technology perspective because at the moment it is a fact that we are totally on the limit in terms of development.

“I would like to get a feel for what WRC is going to be, is it going to be an aero formula? I don’t think so. Is it going to a be a prototype formula?, I don’t think so. Is it going to be powertrain type of formula and if so what type of power is it going to be? is it ICE, is it hydrogen or is it electric? This would determine the profile of the person we would need in a management position.

“I think right now probably have the right ingredients maybe the recipe for putting them altogether is not perfect and I guess my role is to make the recipe a bit better.”

Hyundai is yet to win a rally after three rounds this year, although the team has enjoyed a much stronger start to 2023, scoring four podiums to sit 27 points adrift of leaders Toyota.

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