Renault debate future involvement in F1
Engine manufacturer reviews options at board meeting after an uncompetitive 2014 season
As F1 Racing went to press, Renault had arranged a special meeting in which their company directors were to discuss their future F1 involvement. Options considered included pulling out of F1 altogether at one extreme, to buying back the Lotus factory at Enstone to run their own works team again at the other.
A complete withdrawal is thought to be highly unlikely, but the ongoing issue of costs in F1, Renault’s lack of competitiveness compared to that of Mercedes, and the uncertainty over the engine rules will have provided an uncomfortable backdrop to the meeting.
Renault-powered Red Bull have been campaigning in recent weeks for a change in the current engine formula, but it is not clear what team principal Christian Horner is hoping to achieve. He has variously proposed a reversion to the naturally aspirated V8 engines F1 abandoned at the end of 2013, or what he claims would be a cheaper hybrid twin-turbo engine, with frozen or standard energy recovery systems.
Rivals have questioned his thinking – pointing out that Renault had backed the current engine formula and that both they and Mercedes would quit if F1 returned to the outdated V8s. They are also at pains to stress that a new engine design would inevitably increase costs.
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says Renault and Mercedes agree at board level on their desire for the current engine formula to remain in F1.
“Where Renault and Mercedes are 100 per cent aligned is that the current V6 technology is state of the art, road-relevant and it is the future,” said Wolff. “So on a motorsport level, between Renault Sport and Mercedes motorsport, we are fully agreed and have full alignment on that.
“This is clearly where we are. Renault were very vocal in introducing these engines as a condition of staying in Formula 1 and this is where we are today. So all the other things that are being discussed are just funny.
“We all agree development of the internal combustion engine and hybrid system will remain part of the rules. If we want to adapt the engine regulations, we will discuss that. It’s nice to hear the views of individual teams as part of that discussion but they do not reflect the views of the manufacturers.”
Horner, meanwhile, insists that the current engine rules – with no in-season development and a complex set of rules defining how much engines can be changed from one season to the next – do not allow Renault and Ferrari enough facility to catch up with Mercedes.
“Leave it as is, and you’ll probably drive Renault and one or two others away,” Horner said. “So, you have to do what is right for the sport rather than what is right for an individual manufacturer.”