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Renault wants cheaper F1 engines

2013-05-27 12:12

WORTH MILLIONS: The cost of F1 engines will increase with the new V6 era in 2014 but Renault hopes to curb this trend with cheaper engines. Image: AFP

ALAN BALDWIN

MONTE CARLO, Monaco - Renault is committed to Formula 1 and will work to reduce the cost of its 2014 V6 engines after their introduction.

The company's chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, assured F1 business boss Bernie Ecclestone at the Monaco GP that he was aware of his fears. He was speaking after Renault announced a deal to supply its 2014 engine to Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso, currently using Ferrari engines.

The current V8 engine costs the equivalent of about R111-million a season whereas the new 1.6 V6 turbo with energy recovery systems will be more than double that.

COST REDUCTION

Ghosn said: "There is some concern about the cost of the engine. Our commitment is to work to reduce these costs. Let's first put the performance at the right level, reassure our teams that they are going to get a very competitive and effective engine, then little by little rationalise, simplify and reduce the costs.

"We're not going to drop the price for anybody in 2014, but our commitment is that every year we will be working hard to make the engine more efficient, to reduce the costs, to pass part of the cost reduction to the users."

Renault is supplying four teams through 2013 - Red Bull, Williams, Lotus, Caterham - and will supply at least three in 2014. Red Bull and Toro Rosso are confirmed; Caterham has a long-term commercial agreement with Renault and the teams owner Tony Fernandes said he would stay with the French manufacturer.

Williams is expected to switch to Mercedes; Lotus, a once Renault-owned team, is understood to be talking to various parties.

Ghosn said three teams was the minimum Renault, which spends about R1.4-billion a year on its F1 engine activities, required to meet its commercial targets. "We will not be surprised if the third one will come soon. We may have more but we don't need more," he said. "It's more a question of opportunity than necessity but in terms of necessity we need three."

F1 'SUCCESS FOR RENAULT'

He ruled out "re-badging" the Red Bull engine as Infiniti (a Nissan/Renault alliance-owned luxury brand that is the team's title sponsor) or returning to the sport as a team owner.

However, he said F1 remained a success for Renault, with its focus on raising awareness of the automaker's products in emerging markets such as China, India, Russia and South America. Red Bull has won the last three Drivers' and Constructors' titles while Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) is second in the current championship behind Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

"People can see that Renault means technology, Renault means reliability," Ghosn said. "That's the message for the consumer and Renault will stay in the sport for as long as it makes sense for the company. We've invested a lot in the 2014 technology so we are going for many years. As long as we are gaining we will continue."


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