It is finally done.
The long rumoured return of Renault to Formula 1 as a ‘factory’ team has finally become reality. In 2016 Renault will compete in F1 as a stand alone manufacturer, building their own chassis and power unit. As of this moment there is no official word if they will be supplying any other teams with their Renault branded PU, but previous statements by Carlos Ghosn seem to made it clear that after the 2015 Red Bull debacle, they have little interest in supplying anyone but themselves. Deploying a power unit in just one car design is how McLaren Honda are currently operating, but there has been speculation that there may be yet another rule re-write, that would force all manufacturers to supply a minimum number of customers. This was not confirmed in this weeks WMSC announcement, but is expected to be part of the “recommendations” and “decisions” the WMSC has “mandated” Bernie and Todt to propose by January of 2016.
Mr. Ghosn made it clear in his statement that the decision was his and his alone:
“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win–even if it will take some time.”
According to the press release, the principal contracts were signed today, December 3, 2015. The reason for the delay has been the ongoing negotiations between Mr. E and Carlos over, you guessed it, Money. How much Carlos was able to get out of the the old Miser is unknown, but we can assume it will match or beat the money he his giving to Williams, who receive the least from the “historic” constructors fund.
This can only be viewed as good news for the sport. Losing Renault may well have seen Lotus go out of existence, and once again a grid of just 20 cars in 2016.
The press release makes no mention of what name the team will be register with the FIA for team and the power unit, though we do know that a name change was discussed by the Strategy Group, The F1 Commission, and the WMSC.
Interestingly, the short press release has done more to connect the new highly-efficient power unit with Renault’s road cars than anything the French manufacturer received during their association with Red Bull Racing.
“The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.Formula 1 is a means for Renault to accelerate development and remain at the forefront of the sport’s technological progress. It simultaneously allows Renault to build bridges between the advanced technologies seen in the world championship and its road cars, particularly in the fields of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consistent with its commitment to F1, Renault will develop its R.S. range by stepping up investment in order to be active on every continent and in even more segments with vehicles that meet the needs of their different markets.”
Let’s hope for the sake of competition, that Renault can recreate some of their previous successes and give the other Manufacturers a real run for their money.