INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, March 17, 2000-With the announcement that it will buy the Benetton Formula One team, Renault has joined the long list of major auto manufacturers participating in the Formula One World Championship. A statement released by...
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, March 17, 2000-With the announcement that it will buy the Benetton Formula One team, Renault has joined the long list of major auto manufacturers participating in the Formula One World Championship.
A statement released by Benetton on March 16 said that it had signed an agreement on March 15 with Renault for the French auto manufacturer to buy the team for $120 million. Benetton will remain as the team's official sponsor for the next two years, and the team will continue to run under the Benetton banner during that time.
This will mark the third era for the team that started in F1 in 1981 known as Toleman. The legendary Ayrton Senna drove for the team in his rookie F1 season in 1984. Benetton, the Italian clothing company, bought the Toleman in 1986 and renamed it Benetton.
Benetton won the 1994 and 1995 Drivers Championship with Michael Schumacher and the 1995 Manufacturers Championship. The team has amassed 27 Grand Prix wins, 96 podiums and 16 pole positions.
"Today's globalization means that it must be the specialists in each sector who compete in their own market," said Luciano Benetton, president of the Benetton Group. "We have invested a great deal in Formula One, and it has bought us more satisfaction than we could have imagined.
"Now, to guarantee the development the team deserves in this new scenario, it is appropriate to pass the baton to Renault. I take this opportunity to thank all the sponsors who have supported us with the passion in this extraordinary adventure."
Renault purchasing Benetton is the latest example of the increasing interest auto manufacturers have shown in Formula One. Ford bought the Stewart-Ford team last year and now runs it under the Jaguar name, and DaimlerChrysler recently bought 40 percent of Team McLaren. Honda and BMW both returned to Formula One this season, and Toyota will enter the series next year.
In all, six manufacturers -- BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot -- are competing in this year's Formula One World Championship that includes the inaugural United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sept. 24. In addition to these six, five teams have associate deals with engine manufacturers. The Playlife/Supertec V10 used by Benetton and Arrows is based on the Renault; Sauber's Petronas V10 is actually the 1999 Ferrari specification engine; Jordan's V10 is built by Mugen-Honda, a sister company of Honda; and Minardi's Fondmetal is an updated version of the Ford Cosworth V10 used by the Stewart team last year.
Renault competed in F1 as a factory team that manufactured both its engine and its chassis from 1977 through 1985 during which it won 15 Grands Prix and 31 pole positions. Renault finished second in the 1983 Constructors Championship, and Renault driver Alain Prost lost the World Drivers Championship by just two points the same year.
After withdrawing its team at the end of the 1985 season, Renault continued to supply engines to several teams, including Lotus, Williams, Tyrrell and Benetton, through 1997. In 1998 Renault passed its engine program to the Mecachrome engineering company. The engines, marketed by Supertec, are used by Benetton, which calls them Playlifes, and Arrows, which calls them Supertecs.
Between 1977 and 1997 Renault engines won 95 Grands Prix. Williams was the most successful team to run Renaults in the last decade, winning four Drivers Championships (Nigel Mansell -- 1992, Alain Prost -- 1993, Damon Hill -- 1996 and Jacques Villeneuve - 1997) and five Manufacturers Championships with Renault power between 1992 and 1997.
Benetton used Renault engines from 1995 through 1997 and won the Drivers and Constructors Championships in 1995. Since 1998 the team has used the Mecachrome/Supertec/Playlife version of the Renault.