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.