A withdrawal from Formula 1 is still being considered by Renault, Alain Prost has revealed, as the French car manufacturer closes in on a decision over its future.
Following months of discussion about what the car maker wants to do in F1, it had been looking increasingly likely that Renault would edge towards buying its own outfit – with Lotus the preferred option.
Further talks about that matter are ongoing, although it is unclear how quickly a deal could be sorted out – as the Lotus situation is complicated by the team's long-term engine supply contract with Mercedes.
But Prost, who has long been an adviser to Renault, says that the company is not totally set in the direction it wants to go in – and a withdrawal still cannot be ruled out.
“Today, everything remains possible,” the four-time champion said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.
“For sure, we’re looking at all the solutions… although there are probably just two! Or three, if you consider leaving as an option. Nothing is impossible. A big constructor can quickly decide to go a different way.
"But I don’t think it’s in Renault’s genes and interest [to leave]… There still is a history, a tradition. History is very important to Renault in motorsport, and it has always been a very innovative company. That’s the assessment of the situation, now they have to look at the best options in the coming weeks.”
When asked about the serious consequences F1 faces if Renault quits, Prost said: “If a constructor like Renault is to leave, it is very much an issue, for sure. That’s certain, that’s the only thing you can say.”
Prost admitted that Renault's current situation in F1, with performance struggles and it having come under attack from partner Red Bull, made its involvement in the sport difficult.
“I think it’s no secret – being an engine manufacturer is not easy for Renault,” he said. “You just need to see how things evolved: from four consecutive world titles to a tough year and a half. It’s like everything suddenly changed.
“It’s very hard to draw benefits from those consecutive titles when you partner a team that is so strong marketing-wise [like Red Bull].
“At the end of the day, there are many negative aspects but fewer positive aspects. It’s normal that they reconsider their positioning towards F1 as well as the evolution of the markets, the brand itself and the whole global strategy.”
Interview by Guillaume Navarro