Renault questions its future in F1

More uncertainty surrounds the future of more than 500 workers at the Renault F1 team’s Enstone base.

Renault held an emergency board meeting on Wednesday in response to Toyota’s withdrawal from the sport, and to consider it’s own future F1 plans in the light of the ‘Crashgate’ scandal that has been so damaging to the French manufacturer in 2009.

When questioned by reporters in Paris, CEO Carlos Ghosn did little to clarify the company’s future in the sport and refused to commit the French squad to F1 for any length of time.

“You will have to be patient,” said Ghosn, “We will announce our strategy in terms of Renault’s role in Formula One before the year’s end. It’s not very far away, it’s in a few weeks.”

But Renault F1 managing director Jean-Francois Caubet told French sports newspaper L’Equipe, “We have already contracted our drivers, had our budget approved and are enrolled in the world championship.” Earlier this year, Renault signed the revised Concorde Agreement, which has committed the firm to the sport until the end of 2012.

It has signed Robert Kubica as its lead driver for next season, while watchmaker TW Steel has been brought in to replace ING, which withdrew from the team after the high profile ‘Crashgate’ scandal which saw team boss Flavio Briatore and Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds leave the team.

Meanwhile Ari Vatanen, the recently defeated presidential candidate for world motorsport’s governing body the FIA, has said that Renault would be “right to quit” Formula One.

“If you analyze it Renault is right, they are a serious international corporation and not loonies as Max Mosley, former FIA president, has called them. They are just very disillusioned with the governance of Formula One,” he said.

“Renault would stay in the FIA championship if the sport was known for positive news and if it was a good avenue for marketing and promotion – but Formula One has become notorious for conflict, crisis and court cases, and big companies cannot afford that,” Vatanen added.

“I hope Renault do not leave, but if they do it is the final alarm call that we cannot continue with business as usual. I am sad to say the old guard are still in power in the FIA but teams are starting to vote with their feet,” said Vatanen.