Renault in shock F1 departure

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In an interesting article from our friends at AUTOSPORT, it appears that Renault is bowing out of Formula 1 as an engine developer and supplier. Earlier reports that Red Bull had asked for early termination of their contract that would allow them to use a different power unit for 2016 may very well be the case but it seems that if correct, it was prompted by Renault’s desire to exit F1 as a supplier of engines.

I’m somewhat confused as to the timing of the announcement but it would seem to this F1 fan that Renault made their intentions clear and Red Bull, along with sister team Toro Rosso, were not merely sending a letter of early termination rather negotiating the termination of their contract with Renault which would seem to have some teeth in it in Red Bull’s favor unless Renault play hardball and do provide power units for the team in 2016 and then end their involvement after the contract expires.

What I still find slightly odd is the comment or swipe that Renault boss Carlos Ghosn took at Red Bull and F1 in general when he said:

“Unfortunately when we were winning championships the Renault name was never mentioned. It was the team that was winning.
“So we started to feel the return on this investment was very weak.

“It was intensified by the fact that when the technology changed and we moved from the V8 engine to the present technology, some of the teams using our engine did not fare well, and the reasons for which they are not performing became the engine.

“So you are in the game that when you perform very well you are never mentioned, and when there is a problem with the team you are the first guy to be pointed [at].

“Are the criticisms fair or unfair? I don’t think it’s a question of being fair or unfair.

“It’s a sport. You can’t just say ‘I lost, but my team-mate was really…’ you know?

“I think it’s a question of sportsmanship. We are expecting, that when we are in a sport working with other people, we win together and we lose together.”

For me this sounds like a convenient scapegoat argument. The only confusion as to who was powering Red Bull’s victories came from Renault themselves by branding their F1 effort as Infiniti instead of Renault.

When Renault was a works team and winning titles with Fernando Alonso, there was no confusion as to who powered the championship-winning performance. When Red Bull won, four years on the trot, we knew it was a Renault effort but the car said Infiniti. If they wanted the name Renault to be front and center, then they should have made it so. How is that Red Bull’s fault?

As to winning and losing as a team, all I can offer is my opinion that Renault were one of the teams that threatened to leave the sport if it didn’t move to turbo hybrid format along with Mercedes. They missed the nail with their hammer and now want to complain that Red Bull has been ill-tempered in the press.

Fact is, Renault were delivering Red Bull their first defeats in four years and to be fair, Red Bull did bite their lip for much of 2014 publicly at least. It wasn’t until Renault decided not to spend engine development tokens and continued to promise fixes to their power unit that Red Bull lost patience.

A team like Red Bull have big resources and to be stymied by an ill-mannered power unit just isn’t in their playbook. One can see that eventual outcome in McLaren should Honda fail to turn around their deficit performance. These teams are used to running up front and have the budgets to ensure they do but a power unit holding them back is a bitter pill to swallow. It’s not like Manor complaining about their Ferrari engine as the team doesn’t have the resources to run at the sharp end of the grid…Red Bull does.

I’m frustrated with Renault because they are better than this. Tucking their tail and running away from a problem they themselves championed and threatened to leave the sport over is really in poor form in my book. This leaves F1 with two power unit manufacturers and that simply isn’t enough.

The FIA will need to take a long, hard look at these hybrid power units if it wants to remain a profitable series. Ask yourself if you’re ready for a bunch of Ferrari-powered cars to fight a bunch of Mercedes-powered cars. Sure, I left out Honda because they supply one team at this point and they’re running at the back of the grid.

If the increase in power unit supply costs has ballooned from Seven million Pounds to twenty million and it is bankrupting teams and now we are left with only two decent engine suppliers as Honda tries to find its sea legs, the sport has got to ditch these engines, this exercise in sustainability is killing this sport.

I’m sorry, I understand how cool these new power units are and the tech involved but if it kills the sport or damages it beyond reproach, then I am not a fan. In my mind this is one of the biggest missteps in F1 history and in time I believe it will be judges as such.

Now, before I get too wacky here, if Renault is positioning itself to enter F1 as a full works team by buying Lotus F1, there is some redemption here and perhaps that plays more into the type of involvement they feel is worth their investment. It still leaves a sour taste in my mouth but far less than if they just pack their marbles and chalk up and go home. That still could happen but they feel they deserve an extra historic team payment like Ferrari gets.

If F1 does not give Renault that historic status, the company could simply leave the sport. It could be a bargaining chip they are playing but that’s not wise given F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s track record of how he deals with and feels about threats. He’s walked away from much bigger threats.

It is entirely possible I am misunderstanding the point of the story but based upon what I am reading, Red Bull and Renault are negotiating their departure as a supplier to the team because Renault are getting out of the engine supply business altogether. Perhaps they will continue as a full works team but until then, we hold our collective breaths. I am a fan of Renault as a works team and I truly hope they take that route as I believe F1 needs strong French involvement and a French Grand Prix. There are too many great people in that program to call it a day and go home.

Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT

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Gorm Andizer

I would leave if I were Renault as well. Ever hear the saying “throwing good money after bad”?
Renault-powered cars will not be claiming any trophies this year nor next, so what is the point?
The only way anyone will make a game out of these sport killing regulations is by deciding to break whichever rule they choose and develop as they feel like. Get themselves 20 million penalty points and race the Mercs… and, I bet doing that costs no more than what they are already spending…it’s just we don’t see it when they pretend it isn’t happening.

John The Race Fan

If every company applied the mantra of not throwing good money after bad, there would be zero motorsport sponsorship, especially in Formula One.

stammer

Basically, the company is fed up with RBR bad-mouthing them. I think there could have been more progress if the relationship had been more cordial. I worked at Viry-Chatillon and can tell you that they won’t take crap from anyone. They hardly got a mention in the V8 era when RBR were winning everything – it was all Newey.

Tommy Mac

pfft Renault have got themselves to blame no one else, so you worked at Viry and confirm a BS attitude by not taking crap..i call that arrogance

stammer

Of course they were arrogant – still are – they’re French! They have missed a trick with the hybrid and are suffering for it. If Renault do go to an F1 team solution, it may well be as Infiniti GP. The Nissan brand[s] are global whereas Renault is pretty much confined to European markets. My nose tells me they are pulling out completely – it’s in their F1 DNA.

Klien

You must be stupid mr. jornalist! How many times Christian Horner, Helmut Marko or Dieter said thanks Renault for this title? In four years of winnings only 1 person of Red Bull said thanks he’s name Sebastian Vettel, do you think that Carlos Ghosn was talk about the sponsor in the car? Are you that stupid?! Do you know what happens with Daniel Ricciardo new engine in Monza? Wasn’t a Renault fault, it’s was a Red Bull component failiure, but that you don’t know, you don’t whant to!

Negative Camber

Hi, not sure who you are talking to and calling stupid but if it is anyone here, please go frequent other F1 sites, we don’t attack people personally at this site. We have one rule, share your opinion with decorum and civility. Thx.

xorpheous

Is this not the same position that Pirelli is in? When things are good, no one ever mentions tires. Have one or two blowouts because of track debris and everyone loses their mind. Renault is in a similar situation. When they were winning, it was never because of their strength, but when they’re not, it’s because of their weakness. I’d leave the circus, too.

228929292AABBB

Agreed. When Renault had the most powerful engine what did we hear? ‘Wow that Adrian Newey is brilliant!’ about a car which, no less, said INFINITI on the side. I don’t see a lot of upside for the engine supplier. It’s like they say about Jockeys – no one knows their name until a horse that’s supposed to win doesn’t win. We should keep this in mind though when we’re all tempted to laugh at Honda’s comments that they’re there or thereabouts on power. McLaren have done enough really dumb things in the last few years, it’s not out of… Read more »

Tom Firth

What I think this is, is Renault conceding that the possibility of Renault power being on the 2016 grid, for any customer team is now very slim. Especially given found time to continue the long running spat with Red Bull in the conversation. The companies only customer … Saying will do the engine supply for ’16 if the company needs to honour the contract, but that’s all, and seemingly have no expectation to do that. Haven’t got any other customers so if Red Bull entrants go, it’s done. Whether Renault is on the grid at all with it’s factory team,… Read more »

Craig Alderson

Agreed, I think this is purely a termination of customer engines for teams with a hand F U to RB to boot. Perhaps they’ve got some pretty decent changes in mind for 2017? Allow Lotus to go bust in 2016, buy it on the cheap having sat out 2016. Hey presto, new Merc like PU having side stepped the dev token system.

Negative Camber

I think that would be a very difficult prospect to try and pull on the FIA. Bowing out with their F1 homologated engine to then try and come back in after buying Lotus with an all-new engine design would not be looked upon very favorably by the FIA, FOM or the teams. That would be a really hard sell.

Paul KieferJr

It seems that Renault tends to make a mess of things no matter what they do, even in the normal world of passenger cars. Why have they been allowed to live (in corporate terms, that is)? It was my assumption that if you screw up and continue to screw up, your deserve to get destroyed. Doesn’t competence mean something anymore? My late-grandfather once said, “Do the job right or don’t do it at all.” (He knew what he was talking about.)

MichaelB

I read the Autosport article, and honestly I was completely confused. The first two paragraphs of that article: “Renault has confirmed it is renegotiating its contract with Red Bull after making clear it is no longer willing to be an engine supplier, and questioning the Formula 1 team’s sportsmanship. The French car manufacturer is currently involved in detailed negotiations with Lotus with regard to taking a majority stake in the team, and also with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone over whether it will be granted historical status, which in turn will ensure it receives a greater share of future revenues.” So… Read more »

MichaelB

So this clarifies things a little – from the BBC

But Ghosn said there was still a possibility the company could walk away from F1.

“Our future is the subject of detailed analysis and renegotiating,” he said. “We will either exit or run our own team. We don’t have a clear decision yet.” http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/formula1/34269127

That says to me that they haven’t quite made the call to walk away from F1 just yet…

Tom Firth

Yet have made the decision to walk from customer engine supply at the end of the current negotiations, right?

MichaelB

No idea. I can’t find anything in the BBC article that indicates that. But even that seems like a dumb idea if you’re going to remain in F1. As Honda are discovering, when you only supply 1 team, you only get 1 car’s worth of data in testing and 2 cars worth of data on race weekends which makes development more difficult – and more expensive. I don’t question Renault’s decision to tell Red Bull to get bent… but the rest of it just doesn’t make sense. Here’s what I think may happen… Renault cuts ties with Red Bull and… Read more »

Tom Firth

Not a bad theory. I could go with that. The one bit that may not happen is them keeping Merc engines at the Renault team,but potentially yeah. If the contract means have to, or it makes more sense for them in the interim.

Formula Future

This is a very good article. Pleasure to read it. Makes a lot of sense, wise words.

runnah

Well it’s all business folks. Sorry to say that when your vendor delivers a sub-par product that causes you to not reach your business goals, you cut them loose. I’ve had to do it many times. It sucks because you do build relationships with vendors but this isn’t a child’s tea party it’s real world cutthroat business.

Partnership or not it’s still a vendor/customer relationship.

K.M.

We have a “sustainable” series, it’s called Formula E. Merc wanted these power units because they’d already been heavily investing in them for their road cars (as a friend of mine said “Merc isn’t developing V8s anymore” ), so they had a massive head start really. Renault I think is in the same boat but I doubt they’re as good as Mercedes. Now RBR gets all bent out of shape due to poor performance, and Renault says oh hell with that and we’re done. Ok, let’s see, Toyota pissed away billions on its F1 effort with essentially nothing to show… Read more »

Michael in Seattle

** “Engine tokens be damned, what they really needed was full out development. Let them spend and develop. If we must have this sustainable crap in F1, at least let it have some measure of the “old” F1 flavor by allowing development.” ** Well said; agree 100%. The mfgs. deserve a fair price for their power units, but, the customers should not be held responsible for cost overruns due to mfg. errors. FIA should set a monetary limit which can be charged for a season’s worth of power units (and it should not be $20+million), and then, if the pu.… Read more »

Fred Talmadge

Red Bull seem to mention Infinity more than Renault. Always seemed like a strange sponsorship deal.

Paul KieferJr

I understand that Infinity is a subsidiary of Nissan. Maybe they’ll get an engine from those guys.

Tom Firth

Have 10 weeks to wait maximum, before the cut off for entries to be submitted to the FIA, which includes an announcement of which engine supplier will be used by which teams as far as I’m aware, Yes MIE?

MIE

But will it be Infiniti Red Bull Ferrari?

Tom Firth

Seems more likely than ever, that it will be at this stage.

peter riva

“Unfortunately when we were winning championships the Renault name was never mentioned. It was the team that was winning. “So we started to feel the return on this investment was very weak.” What Renault racing forgot, all along it seems, is that their worldwide sponsorship had to be international and Renault is hardly sold in 60 countries. Nissan, their subsidiary company, is sold in almost every country, especially their Infiniti brand. I always heard “Infiniti Red Bull” as a car name, it is the official F1 name for Red Bull. But Red Bull are aggressive marketeers whereas Nissan/Infiniti – relinquishing… Read more »

Schmorbraten

“Renault is bowing out of Formula 1 as an engine developer and supplier” — I don’t think the AS article said they’re thinking about not being an engine developer anymore but at the same time still remaining in F1. Besides, that would mean buying Ferrari or Mercedes engines, which won’t happen. As I understood it, either they’ll quit F1 for good, or they’ll be a works team, but declining to sell engines to anyone. But as Todd rightly points out, they only stayed in F1 beyond 2013 on the condition that the PU formula was changed, and it won’t be… Read more »

mikewmartin

Appreciate the article NC. well researched and written. One comment; I thought I read somewhere that Bernie had already said Renault, as a works effort would be considered a “historic” team.

Schmorbraten

Ooops I’ll take that back.

>>Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Ghosn said: “We said very clearly, it’s finished.

“We already alerted the Formula 1 authorities [saying] that ‘Don’t count on us as a provider of an engine. It’s over’.

“We will honour our contracts, no problem, but the occasion of Renault as a developer and supplier of engines stops.”<<

Maybe there's some loss in translation involved, time will tell.

Andreas Möller

Personally, I don’t see it as a shock decision. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time now, and the swipe at Red Bull is just more of the same dirt that has been slung in both directions throughout the season. To me, it’ll be good to see that particular destructive relationship come to an end. Hopefully, Red Bull/Toro Rosso will come up with an engine solution that works for them, while Renault can come back as a works team.

Negative Camber

Yeah, maybe. Good grief. A very simple rule. Come in here call me stupid and opine like you’ve been given divine insight to F1 and then finish it all off with an Eff you! Charming, what an outstanding performance. Look, disagree all you want but I really couldn’t care less about your opinion when you’re telling me to Eff off. it’s that simple. Shhhh….the adults are talking.

228929292AABBB

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