“Absolutely no interest”: Renault would have gotten out without a budget limit

(Motorsport-Total.com) – The Formula 1 initiative to introduce a budget ceiling of (initially) US $ 145 million per year and team from 2021 onwards is bound to cling to its first major success. The Renault-Nissan group announced last week that it would continue to operate Grand Prix sports with its own factory team. A decision that would not have been made without the “cap”.

Nico Hulkenberg, Daniel Ricciardo

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Team boss Cyril Abiteboul confirmed in an interview with ‘Motorsport-Total.com’ that the starting position was “very clear” because there was “no chance” of “moving from second to first” before the budget ceiling was introduced. Renault had “absolutely no interest” in continuing to make Formula 1 under such conditions. “But the budget limit and the new technical rules are changing that.”

Renault-Nissan had already announced a billion-dollar savings program in the group in 2019, long before the outbreak of the corona crisis, and indicated that the Formula 1 commitment could also be reviewed. In the absence of new Concorde contracts, Renault would have been able to get out without a penalty at the end of 2020.

Last Friday, interim CEO Clotilde Delbos announced that Renault will remain in the face of the changed conditions. The fact that the group made the decision to cut 15,000 jobs and save two billion euros is a strong signal for the future viability of the Formula 1 platform.

Ralf Schumacher: Renault decision extremely important

“It is definitely a statement that a large manufacturer decides to go with Formula 1,” emphasizes Formula 1 expert Ralf Schumacher in an interview with ‘Sky’. And: “For the other manufacturers, it is also a signal, because one or the other board will certainly come under pressure. Of course, a message like that helps.”

“From a global perspective, Formula 1 is still an incredible marketing tool. You have to be able to afford it, but marketing always costs money. What matters in the end is how many people I can reach. And Formula One is certainly there almost no other sport. If you look at it worldwide, not in relation to one country, “analyzes Schumacher.

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Abiteboul states: “There has been a lot of speculation about Renault’s involvement in Formula One.” Delbos has ended this speculation, “and that was necessary”. In view of the economic pressure on the company, the Frenchman understands “that it was speculated that an exit from Formula 1 could be an opportunity to save costs”.

“But it made it clear that Formula 1 is not just a cost, but also an investment. The return on investment is getting better, and not just because of the latest changes to the rules,” explains Abiteboul.

The process that led to Renault’s commitment to Formula 1 started “back in 2016 when we came back. We expected that sooner or later there would be financial regulations to keep the arms race in check. This also applies to other areas such as engines. “

Who pulled the strings behind the scenes

“We have been committed to and lobbying ever since, and with the recent Formula 1 announcements, there was no reason not to say publicly that Renault is still fully committed,” said Abiteboul.

Clotilde Delbos (CEO Renault)

Interim CEO Clotilde Delbos at the press conference in Paris on Friday



What he means by “lobbying” is beyond our knowledge. Industry experts, however, believe that the French national hero Alain Prost, a consultant to the Renault team, weighed heavily on the board of directors as well as among the political decision-makers. After all, the state of France has a 15 percent stake in Renault.

Abiteboul does not explicitly confirm Prost’s role, but says: “We have a fairly regular opportunity to meet with Renault’s board of directors. We are constantly reporting on what’s going on in our world – a world that is very different from the field of street cars . “

That summit, which ultimately led to Renault’s commitment to Formula 1 on Friday, was by no means a one-off. Abiteboul assures that the team is constantly given the opportunity to present the benefits of the engagement.

“We have had several opportunities to speak about the direction that Formula One is taking. From a strategic perspective, but also in terms of marketing – what is being done to improve the show, make the marketing platform more valuable, and cost more reasonable Not just the cost of participation, but above all the cost of being competitive. “

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