Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul said today that Renault is reviewing its options in F1 which could either lead to it acquiring the Toro Rosso...
Renault Sport F1 boss Cyril Abiteboul said today that Renault is reviewing its options in F1 which could either lead to it acquiring the Toro Rosso team, or quitting the sport.
Speaking in the FIA press conference at Sepang circuit after Free Practice 2, the Frenchman said,
"We are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of F1," said Abiteboul."Honestly if F1 is that bad for Renault's reputation, if we see that we struggle with the current formula, if F1 is not delivering the value of what it costs to Renault. Bear in mind that as a manufacturer you have no financial incentive to fund engine development.
"If we feel that we are a credible player in the sport, that we ares able to compete along the best brands and that F1 is good for our mid-term plan as a brand, then we need to think about what else we can do, other than what we are doing?
"It's an open market and we have the possibility to have a discussion with lots of parties.
"But the first priority is to get the engine right."
Sitting alongside him in the conference, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost confirmed that Red Bull is interested in a possible buy out by Renault and added,
"This would be a fantastic opportunity for Toro Rosso to make the next step," said Tost. "Because the team wants to be established in the future within the top five of the constructor's championship and to be owned by a manufacturer would be exactly the step forward which the team needs."
It was quite a bruising conference with Abiteboul sitting between Tost and Christian Horner, his two customers. He said he regretted that the quoit about him calling Adrian Newey "a liar" had travelled as it did and said it was both ill advised and out of context.
The extent of the breakdown in relations between him and Horner was evident from the body language with Horner wearing a scowl on his face for most of the exchanges and Abiteboul turning his body away from Horner for long periods.
There were some testy exchanges when the subject arose of the work Red Bull is doing to support Renault in Milton Keynes and via Mario Illien's consultancy.
"There was not a lot of Red Bull in the engine in Melboure," snorted Abiteboul, after Horner had talked up what Red Bull engineers had done.
Horner also fired a warning shot about the threat of Red Bull pulling out of the sport, made after Melbourne by Helmut Marko.
He said that if Red Bull found itself without an engine partner were Renault to quit F1, then as neither Mercedes or Ferrari would supply them, they would have to leave as they would be unable to compete.
The big picture here is that Mercedes' domination of F1 at the moment is causing huge strain among teams like Red Bull that are failing to compete. It causes inward looking, soul searching and ultimately friction between partners.
Ferrari has made a huge step technically and is the second best team, which means they are protagonists again and that will do for the moment. But they also are targeting catching Mercedes later this year, which is not impossible to imagine. They are thus not saying much about the state of current F1, nor railing against the engine regulations.
Red Bull, in contrast, feel powerless as the power unit in their care and the regulations which created the hybrid turbo formula and maintain its development rules, are out of their hands. But they don't have many options, hence the growing tension and testiness in the relationship with Renault.
* It has emerged that F1 bosses are set to agree a dramatic 11th hour change of rules with an extra engine being made available to each driver, raising the limit from four to five engines for the 2015 season. This was discussed between Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 Strategy Group teams. It will require sign off by the FIA.With Red Bull and McLaren already one engine down after Melbourne, there was enthusiasm for the change, and it will provide greater flexibility in the use of the remaining tokens through the season.
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Renault could buy Toro Rosso or quit F1 - Abiteboul
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