Renault was 'very close' to F1 pull-out - Prost

Alain Prost has revealed that Renault was 'very, very close' to a Formula 1 pull-out last month, before CEO Carlos Ghosn could finally be convinced about the benefits of staying in the sport.

Renault was 'very close' to F1 pull-out - Prost
Renault Sport
Red Bull Racing, Renault Sport F1
Pastor Maldonado, Lotus F1 E23 passes a Renault advertising hoarding
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing
Cyril Abiteboul, Renault Sport F1 Managing Director in the FIA Press Conference
Scuderia Toro Rosso STR10 engine cover with Renault logo
Renault Sport F1 employee
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB11

Renault has been evaluating its grand prix plans for several months now but, despite having been pushing for a deal to takeover Lotus, the talks dragged on until the end of the season.

Mounting concerns about the budget requirements, and dissatisfaction about commercial rights terms on offer from Bernie Ecclestone, meant there even was a short period when it appeared a deal would not get the go ahead.

Prost, who has close links with Renault and has been heavily involved in discussions about its F1 future, says that on the eve of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the situation did not look good.

"In Abu Dhabi a few days ahead of the weekend, it was almost a no go," Prost told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview about whether there were fears Ghosn would pull the plug.

"Only Carlos Ghosn made the decision. He had to make it himself, but yes, it [a pull-out] was very, very close.

"I haven't talked to him in the last weeks. He knew what to do, and he had to decide himself."

Difficult decision

Prost said that Renault's F1 management had to work hard to try to put together a package that would get approval from Ghosn.

But despite the time it took for a decision to be made, Prost believes the positive outcome is a sign of how committed the French car manufacturer now is.

"It was difficult, for sure," he said. "It was a long decision because of what happened you know, the relationship with Red Bull and the fight that being only a supplier was not the right choice for the future.

"So it was quite a big commitment. You need to understand that they had to take their time to decide what to do. We all know in this company maybe it takes time, but when they are committed it is going to be okay."

Long road back

Ghosn has already talked of it taking up a three years before Renault is fully competitive again in F1. It is a time-scale that Prost agrees with.

"It will take a lot of time to be competitive again," he said. "He (Ghosn) was talking about three years and I think that is the minimum. It is going to be very hard.

"But my philosophy is that it is a new project, it's a new story and what is important is that we are going to start in a very difficult environment. The deal has been signed a few hours ago. So the first year it is going to be difficult.

"But what is more important is to build a strategy and to build the story for the future, and to make a progression. That is the most important.

"You don't need to win next year, it is a long project."

Team role

Prost has been linked with taking some sort of position within the new Renault F1 operation, but says no decision has yet been made.

Ghosn has already said that an announcement of its plans for management and drivers will be made in the New Year.

"I'm waiting for January," said Prost. "Then we will see what is the organisation and if I can be a part of it or not.

"I'm very open. We are still talking, we are very open. But we need to have a clear picture."

Interview by Federico Faturos

shares
comments
Top Stories of 2015; #17: Vettel wins with Ferrari
Previous article

Top Stories of 2015; #17: Vettel wins with Ferrari

Next article

BBC terminates F1 contract, Channel 4 takes over

BBC terminates F1 contract, Channel 4 takes over
Load comments
Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up Prime

Unpacking the technical changes behind F1 2022's rules shake-up

Formula 1 cars will look very different this year as the long-awaited fresh rules finally arrive with the stated aim of improving its quality of racing. We break down what the return of 'ground effect' aerodynamics - and a flurry of other changes besides - means for the teams, and what fans can expect

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems Prime

Why F1's new era is still dogged by its old world problems

OPINION: The 2022 Formula 1 season is just weeks away from getting underway, but instead of focusing on what is to come, the attention still remains on what has been – not least the Abu Dhabi title decider controversy. That, plus other key talking points, must be resolved to allow the series to warmly welcome in its new era

Formula 1
Jan 20, 2022
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Prime

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

Formula 1
Jan 19, 2022
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022