Re­nault con­firm full fac­tory re­turn to F1

F1 Racing (UK) - - INSIDER -

Af­ter six months of ne­go­ti­a­tions, which were very nearly de­railed at the last minute dur­ing wran­gling with For­mula 1 ring­mas­ter Bernie Ec­cle­stone, Re­nault have fi­nally con­firmed their buy­out of the trou­bled Lo­tus team. The terms of the deal were be­ing fi­nalised as this is­sue of F1 Rac­ing went to press.

“Re­nault had two op­tions: to come back at 100 per cent, or to leave,” said Re­nault CEO Car­los Ghosn. “I have de­cided that Re­nault will be in F1, start­ing in 2016. The 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.”

Ghosn is known both for his ruth­less prag­ma­tism and his lack of sen­ti­ment for F1. So what led him to de­cide to re­turn? When he sold the team in 2010, Ghosn be­lieved that re­main­ing in F1 as an en­gine sup­plier would pro­vide a use­ful profit cen­tre.

What ac­tu­ally hap­pened was that of the four teams sup­plied by Re­nault, two (Cater­ham and Lo­tus) could not af­ford to pay for the en­gines, while a third (Red Bull) had an en­gine-nam­ing deal with In­finiti, now part of the Re­nault group fol­low­ing a merger with Nis­san, so in ef­fect Re­nault were pay­ing them­selves. The short­fall came from Re­nault’s mar­ket­ing bud­get. Mercedes, mean­while, ac­quired a team, be­came a con­struc­tor, and there­fore raked in a share of F1’s com­mer­cial rev­enues.

Re­nault tac­itly ad­mit­ted as much: “As a full team, Re­nault will take max­i­mum ben­e­fit from its vic­to­ries. Pay­back as an en­gine sup­plier proved to be lim­ited. The re­turn on the in­vest­ment ne­ces­si­tated by the new en­gine reg­u­la­tions and the re­turn in terms of im­age were low.”

It is un­der­stood that the fi­nal hur­dle, cleared dur­ing the Abu Dhabi week­end, was the mat­ter of Re­nault’s share of F1’s com­mer­cial rev­enues and their en­ti­tle­ment to his­toric pay­ments. Re­nault are be­lieved to have com­mit­ted to F1 for nine years – but with much work to do on the en­gine side, and a team that has suf­fered con­sid­er­able brain drain over the past two years, can they achieve their aim of win­ning again?

‘Team En­stone’ comes back un­der Re­nault own­er­ship once again in what is be­lieved to be a nine-year com­mit­ment to the sport

Vi­taly Petrov in the Re­nault R30 in 2010 – Re­nault’s last sea­son in F1 as a works team

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