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Renault on point of quitting F1: deal with Prodrive under study
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Renault on point of quitting F1: deal with Prodrive under study
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Dec 2009   |  10:09 am GMT  |  117 comments

Renault is working out a plan to leave Formula 1 before the start of next season, according to L’Equipe newspaper in France. If it goes through, the sport will have lost four major manufacturers in the space of twelve months, including Honda, BMW and Toyota.

A team has been charged by Renault president Carlos Ghosn with making a study into the possibility of striking a deal with Prodrive’s David Richards to take the team on.

PiqRen
Ghosn made some uncomplimentary remarks about F1 recently, claiming that it was drifting out of relevance, with the challenge for car makers in the 21st century being all about ecology and sustainability. Renault recently launched four new electric models onto the market.

According to L’Equipe, Renault Sport president Bernard Rey is leading the work to find an exit strategy while Ghosn has been meeting F1 commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone a lot recently.

Richards was in Abu Dhabi and indicated that he was interested in working with a team to restructure for the new-look F1 with slimmed down workforces, along the lines of the Brawn and Force India models. Some of the bigger teams are going to have to lose a significant number of the workforce to fit within the resource restriction agreement and slim the travelling race team down to 45 people, roughly the number Force India was taking last season. This takes considerable expertise.

Richards will be looking for a deal which involves the minimum spend on acquisition. According to L’Equipe, Richards has a second tier manufacturer behind him, looking to make an impression on a global scale through F1. Given the increasing globalisation of F1 teams, with a US team and a Malaysian team joining the circus next year, I wonder whether it might possibly be one of the Korean brands, something Ecclestone would be likely to encourage as he seeks to push the sport into new markets. There is a Korean Grand Prix on the calendar next season.

“We will announce something the day we have something to announce,” said a Prodrive spokesman yesterday. “Prodrive had its candidature turned down by the FIA for 2010, but would be ready to engage with F1 as long as it could be competitive and the business is viable.”

There is a suggestion that part of the incentive for Richards is to relocate his Prodrive business, sell the factory in Banbury and the Renault deal would allow him to move to much larger state of the art premises with built in wind tunnel, CFD department and far better facilities.

Also looking at the deal is a company called Gravity, which is backed by venture capital firm Mangrove Partners. The founder of Mangrove is Gerard Lopez, who will be speaking next week at the Monaco Business Forum on financing in F1.

Mercedes will be monitoring the situation closely as Robert Kubica’s contract is likely to be with Renault themselves and he may well become a free agent if the team is sold. He spoke to Brawn in the summer but did not want to wait on Button’s decision before confirming his drive, so signed with Renault.

As for Renault continuing to supply engines, as I wrote here last week, Renault will continue to supply engines for 2010 and it is not hard to imagine that this arrangement would continue until the end of 2012 when the engine formula is set to change – ironically to a more environmentally friendly formula, no longer based on engine capacity but on fuel efficiency – precisely the kind of thing Renault says is important for F1.

However Red Bull boss, Christian Horner, has said that Renault wants some assurances on engine parity before committing. It is not yet confirmed that his team will use the Renault engine next year, even though it appears on their entry in the FIA entry list. It depends on what steps are taken to equalise the engines, as the FIA has indicated that this year it should be rounded down rather than rounded up and it is up to the teams to decide among themselves how that should be done,

“I think it depends on what’s done with the engine regulations moving forward in terms of parity,” said Horner. “The teams have decided that the engine should not be a performance differentiator under the frozen rules. I think it’s vital, not just in the case of Renault, but in the case of all the engine manufacturers, that a solution is found.”

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117 Comments
  1. martin_tf says:

    Interesting move. It would be good to see Prodrive in F1 after the recent attempts to get an entry.

  2. jw1980 says:

    Prodrive would make a good replacement for Renault and I think there’s every opportunity that under Richard’s stewardship the team would actually do better than it would in its current form.
    It’s a shame that Renault are leaving. It’s a name that has a lot of history in F1 particularly during the time I have followed the sport since 1980.
    It’s disappointing that Renault (or Ghosn) cannot leave with more elegance. F1 has done a lot to benefit Renault.
    If Renault had a winning formula for next year it would be staying.
    They will be back again possibly when the new engine formula is announced.

    1. Dale says:

      Stop thing Prodrive, start thinking Aston Martin!

  3. Nicollers says:

    If Renault do walk away from F1, I’m sure they will return at some point in the future. Perhaps when markets pick up again. It will be nice to see Dave Richard’s face back in the paddock should Prodrive get the nod however, but this does bring up the question, is F1 turning into a 2 tier league? The newbies won’t have a chance against Ferrari and Mercedes engines. Are you concerned by this James?

  4. Athos says:

    Kubica’s off to Merc then I take it? It all kind of explains why Mercedes have been waiting around for their second driver.

    1. Segedunum says:

      If the Renault team continues in one form or another then there’s no chance of Kubica going to Mercedes. He won’t be released only for Prodrive Renault or whatever to have to go off and find another driver – which they might not find right now.

      Additionally, Mercedes are not going to hang around and wait for an announcement on the off-chance that they might be able to get Kubica and potentially end up with no one. It’s far too illogical.

      1. Tom - Australia says:

        It’s not a matter of logic. It’s a matter of contract.

        I would imagine RK’s contract (which is probably very thick) has an out clause in the event that Renault sell the team.

      2. Segedunum says:

        I doubt it. It’s not something that a team would ever be keen to do.

        Again though, it is a question of logic. There’s no way Mercedes would simply wait for Kubica and wait on Renault doing something when they could be left with no drivers at all in January.

      3. Nick Pauro says:

        ROMAN?!

      4. Segedunum says:

        It’ll almost certainly be Heidfeld now.

    2. Dale says:

      I’ll believe it when I see it!

    3. Mario says:

      Which is what I’m hoping for and been waiting for as well being one of very few Kubica’s fans. All is going well at the moment.

      1. Charles says:

        As a Heidfeld fan…I hate you. I’m going to be furious if Kubica ruins Heidfeld’s shot at winning for a second time.

      2. James Allen says:

        Calm down. Tell us when you first realised you might be a Heidfeld fan..

      3. Mario says:

        I agree with you. Kubica is a direct rival for goodies to Heidfeld. But this is a competition and as always in a competition the better one wins. Now, there is no way to say who is better, Kubica or Heidfeld, however certainly Kubica is regarded higher by the teams in the paddock right now, no matter what us, fans think. That is why Heidfeld must wait until Renault thing is clarified.
        I, personally, want Kubica to get that Merc seat, and at the same time I have a lot of appreciation for Heidfeld.

      4. Charles says:

        I’ve been a Heidfeld fan ever since he became the most successful driver never to win a grand prix. I just love underdogs. Kubica is an absolutely fantastic driver, but he’s also fairly young and has plenty of opportunities ahead of him. But I really can’t see Heidfeld ever winning unless he gets the seat at Mercedes.

    4. michael c says:

      wouldn’t it be nice to see Kubica (who has not had the Lewis magic ride to F1) in a potentially race winning car – lets hope it can happen.

  5. Rusty says:

    In truth, I think this has more to do with Renault being uncompetitive for the last three years, followed by a series of scandals in which they were let off extremely light.

    How ironic that Renault’s race ban after the wheel incident was rescinded to a lesser suspended sentence, because Renault were making loud noises about pulling out if it were enforced. The race fixing scandal resulted in them being given an equally soft slap on the wrists for the same reason, and yet, here they are pulling out anyhow.

    I’ll bet the WMSC feel a bit silly now that they’ve been exposed as the toothless paper tiger that we’ve all suspected them of being for some time now.

    1. Glen says:

      Yes. Renault got off with a suspended ban for actions that could risk human lives and McLaren received an eye watering fine for spying in a computerised age where data is easily exchanged. The governing bodies of F1 were not fair.

  6. CC Gonzalez says:

    As you say F1 is rapidly heading towards what Ghosn wants, in terms of an environmentally friendly formula, but Renault’s presumed exit is simply down to bad results, and all the bluff and bluster can’t hide that.

    And with no French Grand Prix, no new circuit, no French single seat championship etc, France is rapidly exiting the world of motor sport because of their lack of vision.

  7. Jon Wilde says:

    Prodrive have been banging on about a place in F1 for so long, they definitely seem like the logical partner to take on the remnants of Renault. What doesn’t add up is how an F1 team would fit into the current business model, the Mini WRC car is an ongoing project for Prodrive, as are the continued efforts in Le Manns under the Aston Martin banner. Wouldn’t entering F1 with a Korean car company backing them, presumably Hyundai further confuse the brand? (I’m guessing they would be allowed to badge the Renault engine as something new) Or is this a demonstration of how motorsport teams should work, playing in many different formula with a series of different backers?

    Kubica turning up at the young driver event with the Renault team is surely a vote of confidence that he intends to be racing with them come March 2010 right?

    I heard from a contact at Sauber that the workforce cuts have now been made, and the team are 100% confident of making the gird in 2010, possibly with a driver managed by the son of the FIA president!

  8. Adrian says:

    While I for one would love to see David Richards back in F1, haven’t we been here before with DR and HondaF1 last year?

    James, I realise that you must have some confidence in this to post it, but how likely do you think this is?

    Also, surely with his connections to the brand, wouldn’t DR want to use the Aston Martin brand in F1??

    1. Athlander says:

      Dave Richards has said before that he wouldn’t use the Aston Martin brand in F1. I would have thought it was a good fit, but perhaps he reasons that unless his team are perennial challengers for titles, being a mid/low team would actually harm the brand.

      1. monktonnik says:

        Aston Martin is really a premium GT brand. I can understand why it wouldn’t be attractive to enter F1 since they don’t have walnut in the cockpit anymore :)

        Also, I suspect that Aston Martin are nowhere near as wealthy as Hyundai (for example). I suspect that they would be able to afford more cash to run the team.

      2. Rich C says:

        Y’know, just a touch of walnut in the cockpit would be do-able though. It’d freak out a lot of ppl and the tv ppl would love it!

  9. Zvonimir says:

    I really don’t see what’s the fuss about the engine parity. As James wrote performance difference was around 2,5% with Renault engine almost at the level of Mercedes. Actually, I don’t see Red Bull suffered because of engine’s below par performance. For at least half of the races they were faster then Brawn and Mercedes powered teams.
    And then, why not speak about aerodynamics parity or equalization or whatever!? In fact FIA did its best to stimulate aerodynamics inequality this year. It seems it is allowed and accepted to get comparative advantage as a result of knowledge, skill, experience and liberal implementation of the rules in the aerodynamics area but the same is not OK in the power train field.
    So, what is what Renault really wants to achieve by this?

    1. iceman says:

      I think this engine parity thing is being rather over-played too. As we now know the differences were fairly small. It sounds like Christian Horner making excuses to some extent. For next year we could see Renault’s the fuel economy advantage more or less offsetting the power deficit, making it actually one of the better engines to have.
      The real losers on the engine front would have been Toyota, with the equal lowest power and the worst economy, but obviously they won’t be having that problem next year.

      1. Med says:

        Nope, they’ll be trading it in for unreliability and even worse economy…

        Unless Cosworth turn around and amaze us all

    2. George says:

      The problem is teams can bring new aero parts whenever they want but the engines are fixed, so if you’re underpowered at the start of the season there’s nothing you can do about it.

      1. Zvonimir says:

        I agree with your point, but hell, let’s equalize aerodynamics/chassis at the start of the season and then freeze it! Either teams are allowed, and for the benefit of the sport and spectators even stimulated, to look for improvements within the strict set of criteria or they are not!

    3. Rich C says:

      Engine parity! what a stupid concept. I thought the idea was to design and build a better car than the other guys. But hey, maybe they could all run those spec Honda engines the IRL uses.

      1. Zvonimir says:

        Sure, I agree!!! Same engine, same chassis aka. aerodynamics, same electronics…and finally we will be able to distinguish, more or less for sure, who is the best driver. Only, it won’t be Formula 1 anymore!

  10. Nathan Smith says:

    As more time passes it seems Max Mosley was right about so many things. Of course it’s happened all too late and it will always be remembered that FOTA won the ‘war’. I can’t help but think if Mosley had approached things differently, he could still be in office (as I think he would like) and we might even have more manufacturers here.

    Either way, F1 will survive. Will be a shame to only have 3 engines on the grid though.

    1. monktonnik says:

      My feeling has always been that the FIA were never really at war with FOTA, but merely positioning them to fit in to Max’s vision. I think he/the FIA took an extreme stance and allowed themselves to be negotiated back to the position they wanted all along. I think it was always his intention to resign, I can’t see him falling on his sword for the good of the FIA, it just isn’t his style.

      He was right about the manufacturers pulling out though.

    2. Declan says:

      I guess we will never know whether the car manufacturers would have left regardless or whether any action by the FIA could have appeased them – but I completely agree with you that Max kicked over the beehive too many times and a little more diplomacy would have gone a long way.

  11. khan says:

    spells disaster for F1 with only Ferrari and Mercedes competing as manufacturers.

    1. BrightMinds says:

      disaster? I’d kill to see F1 back to 1994 levels of manufacturers.

    2. Martin P says:

      Why?

      Isn’t that twice as many as we used to have in the “glory days” of F1?

    3. Dale says:

      Won’t be long before McLaren join them!

  12. Frenchie says:

    I continue to be amazed at Renault not switching the group’s other brand. Nissan are know these days for the GT-R and more recently the 370 Z.

    That way, they would keep the facilities ready for coming back in 2013 with the new engine formula. In the meantime, they could welcome sponsors such as Panasonic and KDDI by signing Japanese hot shoe Kamui Kobayashi and promoting their Nissan brand with some relevance.

    Am I the only one here who sees sense in such a possible move?

    1. JamesF1 says:

      No, I’m with you. I think Bradley Lord in Autosport picked up on this a few weeks back as well. You can only assume that the situation in Japan’s car industry is so bad that Nissan can’t be seen to waste the money on an F1 project. Would like to see Kobayashi get a drive though.

    2. Chris says:

      Your commentary makes some sense. But my feeling is that after all the scandals and all the lack of good results that could be used in a marketing capacity they just want out.

      Other things to take into account is the lost sales of both Renault and Nissan that are hurting the company very much and they probably can not afford to continue losing money (or investing in the sport and the team). Remember they lost their title sponsor ING. Other aspects that contribute to this is the probable lack of interest as observed due to the lack of a circus and french F1 drivers.

    3. rpaco says:

      Carlos is still in charge of Nissan as well remember.

    4. Dale says:

      Good thought but not likely to happen as the only thing they are interested in is the bottom line.
      They’d be better of going back to being a great engine manufacturer and supplier.

  13. Richard Mee says:

    Sounds promising – at this rate all of the teams I was disappointed to see hadn’t made the cut for 2010 will be given grid slots by default!… now we just need to see where Lola will slot into the proceedings for the full set.

  14. Howard Hughes says:

    Interesting… With increasing numbers of more pure racers like Richards, Sauber, Brawn, Mallya joining the likes of Mateschitz, Ron Dennis (cos he’s still involved, whatever the PRs say) and Frank Williams, it looks like we’ve entered a brand new era of F1; one that has far more in common with the 60s-80s period than the 90-00s… As much as I liked the cachet that the manufacturers bestowed on the sport, it’s hard to see how this is anything but an improvement… We could be back to an era of personalities rather than corporations, which could lend the dynamic a new edge, since like all sports it’s the human angle rather than the technology that provides the true audience hook…

    I rather wish Paul Stoddart and, yes, Flavio were around next year as well though.

    1. James Allen says:

      Stoddard got his timing wrong in terms of sticking around as a team owner. But he did get a good price for selling Minardi to Red Bull.

      1. Liam says:

        Stoddard always played with a straight bat

      2. Mark Crooks says:

        Would be nice to see Red Bull sell it back to him since Torro Rosso are up for sale and now that F1 seems a much more attractive slimmed down business opportunity.

      3. Howard Hughes says:

        Yeah I agree on both counts… And I’m glad he’s racing on in the States. But it would be great to see him back in F1 – he was the kind of no nonsense 70s-throwback type team boss we need more of; great business brain, called a spade a spade, buckets of passion, unafraid to take risks… I’d be first in line to buy his biography!

        *hint hint*

      4. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Plus one on that. Minardi was, with Arrows, one of my favorite underdogs.

    2. Drezman says:

      VJ Mallya a racer LOL…..sorry pure PR exercise.

      Stoddard Back? Who would he argue with now Max has retired!

      Jake Humphrey got a racing license recently, maybe Eddie Jordan is planning a comeback with him and DC as drivers.

      Time for a lie down, crazy off season ;)

      1. onyx says:

        I’m with you -too many people have been at the Christmas sherry early! Stoddart?Good grief, what did he ever achieve in F1?Always at the back, producing cars that were complete rubbish.Tom Walkinshaw was right when he said Stoddart couldnt even run a Formula Ford team.

      2. Howard Hughes says:

        And Tom Walkinshaw achieved so much in F1 besides leaving in a cloud of ignominy, didn’t he?

        Someone always has to be at the back – the beauty of a perennial back marker is that when they inevitably have their occasional moment in the sun it lifts the entire sport. And if someone has to fill 2 slots at the rear, I’d rather it was someone the entire paddock respected and who gave great personality as opposed to a faceless corporation.

        And I think it is you who are mistaken if you think Mallya isn’t a racer – (read my syntax again; I didn’t say he was a ‘pure racer’, merely a ‘more pure racer’, relative to some of the manufacturers. That guy, and that team, are going places. Anyone who risks his personal fortune to achieve ontrack success is a racer in my book.

    3. kristian says:

      I’ll agree about Stoddard but not Briatore. You have to push limits to be successful but he took it to a different level.

      It would be good for the sport if Prodrive took over and Renault went back to being a engine supplier. In a few years when they get their F1 appetite back, there is nothing stopping them buying the entire car’s surface from Prodrive, adding their logo in big writing and getting their B2B partners on the car as well. If Bianchi develops into a full time F1 driver, they could also have a Frenchman in a Renault powered car, somehow that doesn’t seem so bad. All the benefits, none of the risk. The same should be said for BMW who somehow managed to royally screw up their departure.

      1. onyx says:

        Howard Hughes
        You must be on drugs!
        Walkinshaw ran Benetton when it won 2 titles with Schuey,Stoddart was a joke…and as for Mallya..if you think he is a racer and not just out for publicity you should go and lie down in a dark room!What backgound has he in racing?!none!

  15. Ace Best says:

    Oh..this is bad…this is really really bad..I don’t want F1 to be a one make race series…

  16. Red Andy says:

    Yawn. Prodrive had their chance to make it onto the F1 grid in 2008, but they failed to get ready in time thanks to their cavalier assumption that they could buy a chassis instead of building their own. Why should we give them any better chance of succeeding this time?

  17. Chris says:

    Second tier manufacturer? Sounds more like a fit for Aston Martin, which Dave Richards consortium own, to me rather than some Korean tie-up. After all Aston Martin, Ferrari and Mercedes compete in the road car world so it’s a perfect tie-up really.

    1. Tom - Australia says:

      Except for the fact that Aston Martin would lose every.single.time and that really can’t be good for business….

      1. Chris says:

        And that’s what people said about Brawn at the beginning of the year. I put my money where my mouth was and bet on them winning £6,000.00 which was not bad for an outlay of £60.00!!
        I’ll do the same next year if Dave Richards does pull this one off.

  18. Robert McKay says:

    I always knew it would go bad with the manufacturers in F1 – I’m just stunned at the sheer speed it went bad with.

  19. Allan Rooms says:

    Renault were always going to pull out, apart from the early 80′s and Alonso’s two years they where always a better engine builder for F1, something I think they will stay with, the teams who use the engines will of cours epay for them.

    Agree we are getting a more level playing field with some pure racers out there and this could be a good season.

    Bernie will be seething about this though as the rumours I heard where that he managed to persuase the WMSC to let them off lightly as he didn’t want to lose another major name.

    And is Flav’s appeal is successful, bet you will see him on the grid next year with his own team.

  20. F1 Kitteh says:

    Hyundai’s new products are quite impressive in terms of design and quality, going to cause the japs some headaches and its time to push for recognitionn for sure. $50mm a year spend is well worth it.

  21. Spyros says:

    Why can’t Renault wait for a couple of years? If an efficiency engine formula (whatever that means) is on the cards for 2012, surely they can maintain a low-key presence until then and reap the benefits when the time comes!

    I’d much rather see the Renault name in the sport in 2010 and 2011, as opposed to… KIA?

  22. Niko says:

    Prodrive taking over Renault would be a good move, another “win-win” to add to the many so far!

    I’m concerned about the resource restrictions concerning staff though, these are people’s jobs we’re talking about cutting and yet Bernie continues to demands mega bucks from circuits and takes 50% of the team’s TV money – the greedy man truly is on another planet.

    Engine parity is a very bad idea. With aero dominating cars’ performances, we need as much non-aero contribution as possible. With KERS likely to be gone next year, making the engines the same in everything but reliability would be a further step in the wrong direction.

    I love this sport, but something very rotten is gnawing away at it from the inside. The FIA and FOM have been heavily responsible for most of the things people say they don’t like about F1 (lack of overtaking action, tickets prices, etc.) With every new development I pary more and more FOTA are looking to a post-2012 breakaway, even if they do need Ecclestone to launch it.

    1. Niko says:

      By the way James, Cosworth will be supplying 5 teams next year, and yet I thought the maximum allowance is only 4?

  23. Jim, Belfast says:

    Manufacturers are good for F1 in that they bring their big brands and marketing budgets, but ultimately they want to run the sport and disctate rather than enter the competition. Its refreshing to see the “smaller” teams such as Williams and Force India’s come along.

    F1 doesnt “need” manufacturers – it just needs people with money , be they Red Bull , private, backed, whatever, to be able to put a car on the grid which will run within a second of a Ferrari. Thats what makes F1 so special – that you can get a team from one part of the world to design a car to a specification, and then drive it within a second of the best.

    Big brands like BMW and Hionda come and go as their business dictates – sometimes its best just to be a 100% focused F1 team like Williams.

    I worry a bit about McLaren going into other areas, but understand they feel they have a brand that can sell sportscars.

    But private teams – if they can maintain financially sound, which looks more likely than ever under the new rules, are more likely to stay long term and compete

  24. Olivier says:

    … this truly is a shame as I was looking forward to the classic yellow/white/black livery from Renault.

    F1 needs to get their act together. It has to become relevant again. Okay, F1 will never be green but it could give R&D a turbo boost. Look at KERS. McLaren did get it right by the end of the F1 season. That is insane for an unproven technology.

    Cutting edge green technology should come at the forefront.

    1. Tom - Australia says:

      I would conservatively estimate that 80% (really probably more like 90%) of F1′s carbon footprint can be attributed to travelling to and from the various race venues.

      So unless they are planning on adding KERS to Airbus planes I highly doubt F1 will be “green” any time soon.

      1. Rich C says:

        Yep. Like I said months ago – if they really wanted to save money and be green they’d just cut the traveling band in half. Including, I might add, all the PR and adverts ppl.

  25. Andrea says:

    Why do I have the feeling that Formula-1 is like a sinking ship…?

  26. Jameson says:

    I would love to see Prodrive in orange and blue Gulf livery in Formula One! I really hope a deal can be worked out for them, as they are a real racing team.

  27. The Limit says:

    I find the comments of Carlos Ghosn quite amusing about Formula One ‘losing relevance’ on the world stage. How strange that, back in 2005 and 2006, when his company were winning F1 championships the sport was all of a sudden ‘relevant’.
    David Richards is, for me, the perfect example. Much like Ross Brawn, he knows how to get the best from people and has a unique understanding on the motorsport business. Renault, much like Honda and Toyota, may know how to sell cars or build engines, but they are not racing people in the mould of men such as Richards and Brawn.
    Formula One was built around independant teams such as the likes of Ferrari, the classic example of a team built to race as opposed to just building great road cars.
    For the big car companies, Formula One was a vehicle to advertise their wares, nothing more. When a business starts to bleed money, as has happened with the economic downturn, the first thing any CO does is cuts advertising. How embarrassing, for example, was it for Honda to see their F1 engines going pop on an almost race by race scale, when they proudly advertise their road cars as being the most reliable in the business? Then there is BMW, not just selling cars that you take to pick up the kids from school, but luxary sedans and coupes. The highend of the scale, but who in 2009, could not produce an F1 engine worth a damn!
    With a team like Williams, there is no big wig in Tokyo or Stuttgart to satisfy if things go pear shaped. The team exists, just as Enzo Ferrari envisaged his team nearly a century before, to race and nothing else. Is it any wonder that these are the teams that are still with us, when all of the billion dollar glamour mongers have long since departed to lick their wounds and soothe their egos.

  28. rpaco says:

    It would be good to see Dave in F1, his previous submission was excluded for reasons thought not to fall in line with Max’s Cosworth promise.

    Reducing the travelling team to 45 people is tough with 15 per car for a pit stop, (plus standby starter and firemen) that leaves 15 for everything else, (assuming fireman and starter have other roles as well) including performance monitoring, team managing race engineers, strategy planning, tea making, sponsor wrangling etc.

    If engines are turned down to a lower power level this will enhance their longevity. If power is equal (most unlikely) then everything else becomes even more important.

    1. Rich C says:

      Yeah, you dont really need 3 ppl per wheel to make tire changes. Many series make do with far fewer and thus have fewer ppl out there in the danger zone.

  29. Dale says:

    Richards is a top bloke where motor racing is concerned and it would be good to see him up against the likes of McLaren and Ferrari.
    If Prodrive secure the Renault facilities what’s the chances of them racing under the Aston Martin name?
    It would be great to see McLaren up against Ferrari and competitive Lotus’s Long shot) and Aston Martin’s.
    Thoughts James…..

  30. Simo says:

    What will happen with Kubica’s drive for next year? We have to have him on the grid next year, we have already lost Kimi, we can’t lose Kubica as well.

    If Renault do not find a buyer and still decide to leave Formula One, where could Kubica end up? Mercedes perhaps or one of the newer teams?

  31. Stu says:

    Renault have a majority stake in a Korean car manufacturer called Renault Samsung. Originally the cars were based on Nissan models but they are now starting to base them off Renault models.

    If Renault can shift the cost of it’s F1 team to it’s Korean arm it could be another “win-win” for F1.

  32. Rudy Pyatt says:

    The only surprise here is how long it took for Renault to make this announcement. F1 is simply too expensive a marketing exercise to justify (to shareholders, laid off employees, etc), especially given the PR hits Renault has taken over the last year, when you’re not winning and your core business is suffering. “Wait a couple of more years and F1 will fit your image” won’t wash when problems in the core business need solving RIGHT NOW. Selling up the F1 unit should at least free up some cash and other resources, so getting out is a sound decision.

    I don’t see how a privateer-filled grid won’t impact Bernie’s business model: How much glamour, glitz and cubic money can Bernie spin with a grid of unknown privateers? That’s the di Montezemolo question, but it is worth asking. I love the idea of a grid filled with privateers, but it makes no difference to me whether it’s privateers or factories; I’m already a fan. Those of us who are already fans know the players, with or without a scorecard. How many NEW fans (and sponsors) will be attracted by “Ferrari and…” (sorry Ron. Outside the rather insular F1 world, McLaren doesn’t rate with the ordinary, non-F1 sports fan)?

    Without the factories, does the value of the “build it and Bernie will come” mentality that has seen tracks spring up in Turkey, China, etc., now diminish? Granting that almost every race (help me out James; how many aren’t?) is propped up with government money, are these governments going to continue doing so without the prestige of multinational manufacturers competing at these tracks? Will we see an exodus of sponsors from the sport for the same reason? If so, would Bernie even permit sponsorship by “ordinary” consumer brands like (extreme examples for purposes of illustration) Kellog’s Corn Flakes or Heinz Ketchup to fill that gap, but sully F1′s “high end” image that he has worked so hard to create?

    I don’t know if Renault’s exit is the tipping point that will lead to all these consequences, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

    Whether or not David Richards and Prodrive actually join the circus is a possibility that has been raised so often that I’m skeptical. Rather too much like crying wolf. I’ll believe it IF it happens.

  33. Vince says:

    I wonder what is the impact on Kubica’s seat at Renault if the sale goes thru. Is the driver part of “the package” or he becomes a free-agent ?

  34. Munaf-mtl says:

    As an environmental impact assessment student I find it a challenge to express the efficiency component of F1 to my colleagues and others. Yes there is an awful lot of fuel consumption but also a significant effort
    to be efficient. The challnge of making the sport’s transport demands carbon neutral is being tackled with no refeulling rigs, planned offsets, reduced team sizes etc. Gohsn is missing an opportunity to improve his own company’s including Nissan’s efficiency to the market.

    I can’t see F1 being ever perceived of as green until the fuel that drives the cars is cleaner, yet the major polluting aspects can be tackled in the meantime.

    1. Rich C says:

      Or they can copy the IRL and run spec Honda engines burning Methanol.
      No ‘parity’ issues, less of that nasty carbon, less R&D, all the engines always bolt on the same holes. Of course they’d have to proclaim them the ‘pinnacle’ of something or other and *that might not go down well, but w/e…

  35. Andy says:

    I am and always have been a fan of manufacturers as engine suppliers and teams being run by those who live and breathe the sport.

    Technology partnerships with manufacturers on engines and support are good but inevitably their accountants and internal politics get in the way.

    Independant teams and manufacturer engines are a better recipe IMHO.

    Really glad to see cosworth back!

  36. Tim says:

    So Richards has “a second tier” manufacturer behind him, which you think is one of the Koreans. You’re not talking about the world’s fourth largest automaker Hyundai/Kia since they are anything but second tier, at least compared to Renault? They are making enormous gains in all markets and getting them aboard would be a very good thing for F1.

    1. Nico says:

      Bloody awful cars though!

  37. graham says:

    The problem with the “freeze” is that the FIA has been empowered as almighty arbiter of performance. And delusional egalitarianism is antithetical to the spirit of racing.

    And then Renault or Renault through the agency of Red Bull want the FIA to “grant” them another dispensation vis-a-vis an engine power increase. This coming from the team that won the last three races on the trot.

    And what of Cosworth? If they appear to have more power than the rest what then? They have hired many engineers from MB, BMW and the rest while they are allowed to develop their 2010 engine. If they have less power will the FIA make Ferrari, MB, etc. detune their engines?

    Politics, not engineering now rules the day. It is time to end the freeze and get back to racing and engineering.

    In 2012 when the new engine rules take effect… will the engines once again be frozen? Will the teams be allowed to develop? Will development be administered by FIA bureaucrats overseeing the engineers’ every move?

    The sad regulatory remnants of the Max Mosley era continues to bear its ill-conceived fruit. Does Jean Todt have anything new to offer? If so, the time to speak and act is now.

    BTW, who is going supply tires next year and how are they going to develop them with no data and a testing ban? What if they are found to be unsafe because of these things? Will the FIA be liable for any injuries/deaths attributable to these restrictions? Much more to come from the ghost of Mosley.

    1. James Allen says:

      Bridgestone next year and then 2011 is open at the moment

      1. Simo says:

        Who would be the most likely to take over from Bridgestone in 2011, James?

      2. James Allen says:

        Bit early to say but Michelin are the obvious ones, but there were some political problems when they quit. Or an ambitious company like Kumho, maybe

      3. Segedunum says:

        Who knows? It could be a problem. Bridgestone are pulling out to concentrate on other things, and frankly the investment in Formula 1 wasn’t worth it, Michelin got their noses put out of joint and won’t go back, Goodyear pulled out and don’t want to go back and Pirelli have said no. That’s all the major tyre manufacturers.

      4. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Goodyear?

      5. Simo says:

        Are Bridgestone also pulling out of GP2 and other motorsport activities?

        I much prefered the days of Bridgestone v. Michelin, I think it made it far more exciting because it gave another level of mystery of how each car will perform on certain tracks compared to each other.

      6. James Allen says:

        No, staying in GP2

      7. Dale says:

        Why would ANY tyre manufacturer be interested? We need a tyre war again so any company supplying tyres can show their craft against their competition, it also provides a great sideshow to the event, which do to endless crap tracks is more often than not no show at all!

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Not only do the engines make comparable power, but F1 has gone the way of NASCAR where engine regs are concerned: Only one layout allowed; engines “equalized” in performance, sometimes during the season through sanctioning body tinkering, after whining from one engine supplier or the other.

      Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t scorn this. NASCAR racers being endurance cars in many respects (race distances are almost twice those in F1, and I recall Racer Magazine, as well as Racecar Engineering, making similar observations), fuel mileage counts. Races have been won and lost based on superior mileage between competitors. The cars are actually very efficient on gas mileage despite weighing roughly three times as much as an F1 car. Given this, it would be interesting to see modern F5000 cars, with NASCAR engines, vs. “pure” F1 machines.

      Hmmmm…

    3. Rich C says:

      “delusional egalitarianism ” LOL
      Oh I *like that!

  38. Peter Jones says:

    James, if this story turns out to be true, what does it mean about Kubica’s contract? Is it still in effect with the new team or is he free to look elsewhere?

    1. James Allen says:

      I think he would be free and Mercedes are monitoring the situation

    2. Segedunum says:

      I doubt whether Kubica will be free to go. Renault will still be Renault next season…except run by someone else and unless there is something specific in Kubica’s contract he’s going nowhere. Prodrive Renault aren’t going to want to be out of drivers next season either.

      Mercedes aren’t going to wait on Renault to make their announcement or for Kubica to be allegedly available, who they might not get.

  39. David Perel says:

    Being a huge Renault fan (I actually bought a Renault after Alonso won his 2nd Championship) I am sad to see them go :(

  40. Mario says:

    Very good news for me cause I hope it will automatically release Kubica from his Renault contract enabling him to have a chance with Mercedes. This would be a make or brake for Kubica, he would either confirm his abilities or in case of failure… no, I’m not even going there.
    I do believe he is one of the best. He just does not have that playboy, male supermodel apparel like Hamilton or Alonso have, therefor isn’t particularly marketable an asset, but deserves a good car nonetheless.

    1. Mario says:

      I should use the word “look” or “image” rather than “apparel” cause it relates to clothing in English.

  41. carlm21 says:

    Be a shame to see the back of Renault, however the team has been on a downward spiral since 2006.

    I received your book today James and its brilliant. The photos in the middle are great. Will be reading it for next week or so.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for the feedback

      1. Simo says:

        I received your book also James and I agree with carlm21 it is brillant! Already half way through it!

        Hopefully you will make the book an annual thing!

      2. James Allen says:

        It is indeed an annual thing. They say tradition is an experiment which worked. That’s the idea here. Collect the whole set. Thanks for the feedback

      3. Simo says:

        I’m very glad it is going to be an annual thing James.

        But for the next book could we perhaps have more “backstage” photos behind the scenes perhaps from your perspective of Formula One? I love the Darren Heath photographs though, I really like the front page photograph.

  42. js says:

    And with no French Grand Prix, no new circuit, no French single seat championship etc, France is rapidly exiting the world of motor sport because of their lack of vision.

    Its mystifying but the French just don’t seem to care about f1 anymore. However in other forms of motorsport they are at the forefront. At Le Mans, Rallying and touring cars they still have drivers and teams at the top level and still have a huge amount of motorsport expertise behind only the UK and Italy. Only Bianchi and maybe ART can bring some interest back to f1 in the future.

  43. Scott says:

    Bear with me here…

    If Sauber have gained the 13th spot ahead of “Toyota” does that mean the Toyota situation (Concorde agreement signed, potential $150M fine for no entry, potential buyer or whatever it was Toyota had planned) has been resolved, and Toyota have a “get out of jail free” card for next season?

    In that case, would the positive resolution of the Toyota situation have prompted Renault to finally make a decision to leave, knowing that as long as someone can take their slot they are free?

    However, considering how comparatively lenient the FIA have been to Renault to seemingly keep them in the sport, are the FIA really just going to let them walk away?

    1. James Allen says:

      Or more simply, Toyota go quietly, don’t try to sell on the entry and lease the equipment to an F1 team and Sauber get the entry

  44. yos says:

    Renault isnt having a good time, and my clio is killing by overeating.

  45. Don says:

    James and Kubica will be free? Or maybe it is already?

  46. Scott Bloom says:

    Aston returning to F1 is a good thing for the sport and the marque. We know that David Richards is a winner, and Aston makes incredible road cars. Let’s hope Renault makes the right decision and sells the team to someone who knows what to do with it. see the blog at: http://wp.me/pIux9-2G

  47. rpaco says:

    I see a headline today (Sat 5 Dec) that Bernie says that Renault will not quit this year. “we’re in the middle of sorting it out” he apparently said. Does this mean that he is cutting another of his famous unequal deals with Renault as he did before with Ferrari and if he does won’t this invalidate the Concorde agreement? If Renault are given special terms the other teams could justifiably tear up the Concorde agreement.

  48. Rich C says:

    Well with the Sauber/Toyota decision they have just proven that nothing in F1 means what it says, and a man’s word is just hot air. So obviously the ‘Concorde agreement’ is just BS anyway.

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