Renault’s F1 future soon to become clear


Brought to you by TJ13 contributor Fortis and Editor in Chief Andrew Huntley-Jacobs

Following a dismal start to the 2015 F1 season, Renault have been on the receiving end of much severe criticism from Red Bull Racing’s team principle Christian Horner and adviser Helmut Marko. This led to a Renault response suggesting one option they were considering was leaving Formula One altogether.

Cyril Abiteboul, CEO of Renault Sport F1, stated at the Friday Press Conference in Malaysia: “I can confirm that we are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of Formula1.”

Horner has been on a mission to promote engine regulation changes for 2016 and beyond. The first step Christian believes is to scrap the ban on in season engine development and the final homologation opf the engines by 28th February..

“The situation is we are at a precarious point in terms of Renault’s commitment to the future,” he told reporters in Montreal. “If you are effectively shutting that down in February, you are almost waving goodbye to them.”

Renault have a rich motorsport heritage and the Renault E-Dams team won the inaugural Formula E ‘constructors’ title this weekend in London.

Speaking at the event in Battersea Park London, Renault’s CEO and chairman Carlos Ghosn revealed that the future participation of Renault in F1 remains undecided.

“Everything is open,” said Ghosn. “We are really reviewing the situation, we have different options.

“In Formula 1, there are various options that we keep analysing, but it doesn’t just depend on us, it also depends on the Formula 1 governing body.

“There’s the matter of TV rights, there’s the matter of return on investment, but I think by the end of the year, we will take a firm stance.

“Renault has a long tradition of taking part in motorsport. Formula 1 is part of it. If we could continue in better conditions, it would be the best option. But we need good conditions, which is not guaranteed yet.

“We still have not made a decision but we will make a decision soon. All the options are open.”

Yet Renault’s hand may be forced were RBR to go it alone and build their own engine. This is a course of action Christian Horner has strenuously denied – though as an indication of reality, Horner’s protestations mean little.

TJ13 reported earlier this year that RBR had acquired another site adjacent to their current Milton Keynes base. This building 9 was subject to highly specialised and secretive construction developments.

Were RBR to go it alone and produce an F1 engine engaging the expertise of Mario Illien, they would have to declare their hand soon and Renault will then be forced to either buy or build an F1 team, or get out of the sport altogether.

There have been murmurings emanating from the FIA that Renault have applied to be one of the ‘new F1 teams’ currently being assessed by the FIA’s application process.

For now Carlos Ghosn was happy to reflect on Renault’s successes in Formula E. “We are here and we are very happy to be able to be able to contribute and you can expect us to be involved in the future.

“We like what this represents. This is about competition, it is about zero emissions and this is about young people.

“I am very impressed at the youth of the people who come and cheer for Formula E so you can expect to see us more involved in the future.”

Formula E has a long way to go before it challenges F1 in terms of audience. However, the racing this weekend was thrilling and the drivers’ title forth inaugural year of the racing series, decided on the last lap of the last race.

Meanwhile Formula One’s angst over what it should become is still playing out slowly and painfully.

13 responses to “Renault’s F1 future soon to become clear

  1. For all the protestations about Formula E being a younger audience away from Bernie’s ‘Rolex crowd’ I found it very odd that a major sponsor of trackside adverts was a Swiss Private Bank – guess that is what everything 20 something has these days….

  2. That Formula E race was absolutely incredible. I still can’t believe how dramatic it was! I also can’t believe that the commentator can talk directly to the winning driver – why can’t F1 copy this?

  3. Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance?
    Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, won’t you join the dance? (Lewis Caroll)

    So will Red Bull build it’s own engines? I doubt it very much. Looking around at Honda shows just how much time, money and effort is needed to build a new engine that is still at least 2 years away from beating Mercedes. Red Bull’s current supplier, Renault, has years of experience building championship winning engines, including turbos, and they still cannot get it right.

    Were Red Bull have to take a customer engine, e.g. Ferrari, they are giving up on winning world championships as they will never get the prime engines.

    If Red Bull’s management had any sense at all, they would have given Renault lots of their sweet and fizzy cash, wrapped them in a cloak of helpfulness and said “We are in this together, let’s fix the problems”.

    Because being the prime customer for Renault’s engines is the fastest ( and possibly only) way Red Bull can get back to winning championships. But they should have known that before they threw the toys out of the pram.

      • If they were lucky enough to get the engine formula changed, Mercedes, Renault and Honda would leave F1
        so Red Bull would still be without an engine. So would every team that was not powered by Ferrari. And given that Ferrari seem to be getting on top of their engine I doubt they would be too happy about any changes.

        That would just leave a multi -engine formula as a possibility, as it was in the 80s, however the turbos trounced the larger, normally aspirated engines.

        No, I think Red Bull have backed themselves into a corner and burnt all their bridges, bar one – trying to make up with Renault. Otherwise it is leave F1.

    • I agree with your assessments. just one item left out of your analysis – the extraordinary sense of entitlement and narcissism on display by all of the Red Bull organisation (not that this is a unique quality 🙂 if anybody can hide an ongoing P/U development program with any of the several options already discussed – if anybody can come in with a brand new and reasonably sorted P/U – it could just be Red Bull. if that should happen, following the commentary here would certainly be interesting…

      • You may be correct though if they do try and build their own engine I doubt they could keep it secret for long.

      • Renault is in this position, if rumors are true , because they are guilty of gross incompetence, the rumors being a currently classified legal battle between the two companies. Honda is in the position because they didn’t take advantage of their non manufacture status in the last two years to build and test their engines on real f1 cars on real tracks. Racing is cheating, and if you don’t cheat you won’t win, Honda is already displaying the mentality of a team that won’t do what it takes. Mclaren, no stranger to cheating, must be very nervous that Honda was unwilling to take advantage of the position they had. Speaking of cheating, Mercedes are in their position because they had people in the room whispering in the ears of the rule writers, at least according to Bernie eccleston and sky Italia (interview has been pulled by sky Italia, why?)

        So red bull being red bull, my bet is that red bull technologies is developing the power unit (they already write the software for Renault, part of the gross negligence lawsuit) because red bull technologies is not an f1 manufacture they can develop at an unlimited pace and with any care they choose to make themselves. And if they take a play from the Mercedes playbook, they’ll have CH in the room telling the FIA what PU spec they would like for 2017. At this point it will only be coincidence that the 2017 specs match exactly what red bull buys from red bull technology to put in their cars.

    • They must be mad if they sign Alonso again, after all the crash gates and spy gates and such. LOL. Then, McLaren signed him up. But even Alonso must have his limits, 3rd time’s the charm with Renault? I don’t think so.

  4. Does Renault have the budget to get a team and build better engines? Why now suddenly there might be a budget and before they are working from their old shitty facilities on old dyno’s, understaffed and lack of investment?
    I think that they do not have the budget to upgrade their engine department, let alone run a complete top ten capable team.

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