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Renault F1 boss explains thinking behind change of role in F1
Renault F1 boss explains thinking behind change of role in F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Dec 2010   |  9:57 am GMT  |  20 comments

There is a very interesting interview in French magazine Auto Hebdo this week, with Jean Francois Caubet, general manager of the Renault Sport F1 unit, which is now solely an engine supplier in F1, after the marque sold its stake in the F1 team to Genii Capital and Lotus.

Caubet justifies Renault’s decision to change role on the grounds of return on investment; F1 will now be a profit centre for the company with sales of engines to Red Bull and Lotus and then in 2013 a fourth team as well.

Lotus Renault GP livery

For the next two seasons, Renault will also benefit from significant branding on the Lotus Renault GP cars, as well as a partnership with Red Bull which this year brought Renault its 9th world championship as an engine maker.

Right now Renault finds itself embroiled in the battle over the right to race as Lotus in F1 and he is quite fleet footed in dealing with the main points,

“We have a contract for engine supply without knowing yet what the name of the team will be, ” he says. “We don’t want to get involved in this quarrel, it’s up to Renault and Proton to sort this out. The deal with Tony Fernandes is a little complicated by this name business, but his team has shown itself to be the most active of the three new teams in 2010. If we want to start looking for a fourth team for 2013, we need a solid base of three teams.

” We are very comfortable with Lotus Cars, which is not a direct competitor. They produce 2000 cars a year, our relationship with Proton is also excellent. The market is global now and Malaysia must open its borders (to foreign vehicle imports) and Proton must come out of isolation to conquer new markets. So it needs a strong car maker ally. They want to work with us, so industrial and strategic links are in place way above what is going on in F1. ”

Caubet: Believes other manufacturers will join F1 in 2013

He also praised the announcement by the FIA of the new 2013 engine based on a small capacity turbo engine with KERS, “The 2013 engine opens up the game, ” he said. ” The FIA dossier is clear; if we have technological innovations it’s up to us to introduce them. The competition is totally open. We will limit costs with precise rules; materials, number of engines per season, rev limit etc. But we are free in terms of technology. It’s a clean sheet of paper for everyone and may the best one win! 1600cc, twin turbo, direct injection, big KERS, 600 horsepower in the engine and another 150 in the KERS boos and controlled fuel consumption. ”

Caubet believes that after several years of frozen engine specifications in the interests of cost saving, the new engine rules will give the chance -at least initially – for the engine to be the differentiator in performance, “There are three groups of manufacturers,” he said. ” The French, including Renault; the Germans including Mercedes. It’s too soon for BMW to return and then there is VW which is hesitating. Why because from 2013 the engine could be the difference between winning and losing/ The risk is there. The third group? It is the Japanese – they have all been there at the meetings and I’ve been surprised by their interest in the new engine. Of course talking is free, but I sense that they’ve evolved their thinking.. the Europeans are there, it’s new technology…we can’t afford not to be there too.” Honda are thinking very seriously about it.

Caubet also feels from conversations with his opposite numbers at other car companies that they are all reviewing involvement and sponsorship spend in other sports, when motor sport is so obviously connected to the car industry.

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Side note but the red endplates look awful. There was a reason Mclaren used to always insist that the sponsors must fit in with the car colour scheme, not the other way around.

It completely undermines the Black and Gold concept, because the car will actually look black and red.


Renault do appear to be the only people involved who stand to gain regardless of the outcome of the name dispute. They have two teams running their engines, they have a team called Renault in F1 for the next two seasons for no cost and they actually gain money by supplying 3 different teams.

The new engine reg’s also seem a perfect fit for them (also for the Japanese companies so we could see a return in some way). Be interesting to see if any of the American brands (GM, Ford) decide that the new engines fit with their brands goals.


That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to see them in F1. Just that I don’t think it’s likely


I doubt they would. Small capacity engines have never been a strength for GM, if not for Ford as well. Chrysler will not compete with another Fiat-owned brand.

Ford is the only American brand to have seen success in F1, via Cosworth. But after selling most of their subsidiaries around the world, I don’t see them making the kind of investment needed for F1 just yet.


The red endplates ruin a very smart livery.


I thought that about last years Renault too. The yellow and black looked good, but the red didn’t go.

It’s a bit hard though if your in the graphics department of a team to go to your team boss and say: “Sorry we have to reject X million dollars from the sponsor because the colours don’t go. Can you ring them back and ask them if they’ll change their corporate colour to black.”



Absolutely. Could they get rid of the red colour? I’am affraid they can’t, as it is the corporate colour of TOTAL… 🙁


So if my understanding is correct then there will not be a development ban on the new engines?



The Japanese rumors are interesting. Toyota and Honda have always built great 4 cylinder engines. Maybe im biased because of rebuilt so many… but ive always been of fan of their small powerplants and would love to see/hear them singing around an F1 circuit again.


Livery feels like JPS Lotus Renault.


James you would have to think that Mclaren will be building its own engine for 2013. The Mercedes Deal ends around that time if I remember rightly and with the companies goal of being the British Ferrari, surely this is almost certain


P.S. I noticed someone else is using Ian as their name, so I’ve changed it to the new one. We have two Ian’s at work, and since I am the newest of the two, I’m “the other Ian”.


Is it really worth it?

Considering that the engines are supposed to last about 5 races, in a 20 race calendar, that’s about 4 engines * 2 cars. If we add a few more for testing and breakages, we talking about a dozen, or 2, which doesn’t seem that many of the 10’s of millions it will cost to set up the new workshop.

I would of thought, one of the other engine manufacturers would be more likely. If you want to keep it British, there is always Cosworth.

The only way I can see it making sense, is if they use the same engine in their new road cars.


I would suggest that the cosworth idea is not very “Mclaren” they are trying to develop their brand so that they can go on and sell more road cars ( 4 more models are in the pipeline I believe) Being an Engine manufacturer will benefit them here also. At the end of the day they may have to buy engines from a company, why not build your own if you can


I hope Honda do return as an engine supplier at least. I was very sad to see them go.


Has there been any mention of how long these new engines will be allowed to be developed? Will it return to a new engine every year, with smaller teams using older models to save money etc


I hope Honda makes it back into the sport as an engine supplier!


“There are three groups of manufacturers,” he said. ” The French, including Renault…”

James, are Peugeot and/or Citroen considering to get into F1? If not, what does Mr Caubet refer to when he speaks about “the French”, as one of the group of manufactures?


Interesting to see that there’s quite a lot of interest for the new-for-2013 engine specs, also outside of the current manufacturers.

However, should both VAG (with Audi or Porsche) and Honda joint the fray, F1 would end up with 6 manufacturers — Ferrari, Mercedes, Renault, Cosworth plus 2 new marques — to supply 12 or perhaps 13 teams. Wouldn’t that make it more difficult for Renault to achieve a base of 3 or perhaps even 4 customers?

And this doesn’t even include any rumours of McLaren developing their own power plant post-Mercedes.


Interesting to read this and then also hear that Dany Bahar says Lotus/Proton are starting to talk about doing their own engines in the near future for F1 (as they have already committed to IndyCar).

Things are always in flux but it sounds like Renault and Lotus have different plans and that may throw Renaults plans of being a profit center into trouble unless they can maintain a certain number of teams to supply.

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