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Tipping point for Renault's F1 future?

2015-06-09 08:19

NEW ENGINE SUPPLIER NEEDED? Red Bull F1 team principal Christian Horner (above) is worried that engine supplier Renault might quit the sport. Image: AFP / Mark Thompson

ALAN BALDWIN

PARIS, France - Renault could quit Formula 1 if it is not allowed to develop its engines during the course of the 2016 next season.

That’s the warning from  Red Bull team principal  Christian Horner.

The French automaker, partner to Red Bull and sister junior team Toro Rosso, has been lagging behind 2014 champion team Mercedes, as well as Ferrari, since the complex new V6 turbo/hybrid power units were introduced in 2014.

BIGGER PICTURE

In-season development, through a complicated system of 'tokens', has been allowed so far in 2015 but the 2016 regulations in their current form will put an end to that unless there is unanimous agreement to relax them.

Horner told reporters during the 2015 Canadian F1 GP weekend that dominant Mercedes should think of the bigger picture before resisting change.

"We're at a precarious point in terms of Renault's commitment to the future," he explained. "If you're effectively shutting that down (engine development) in February 2015 you are almost waving goodbye to Renault.

"So (Mercedes) needs to a bit of a grown-up think – as well as the International Automobile Federation -  to say what is in the best interests of F1. If F1 can afford to lose an engine manufacturer then stick to February 28."

CONTRACT ENDS IN 2016

Horner said a development freeze would be the worst thing for Renault, which has said it is assessing all options in the sport. The automaker has a contract with Red Bull through 2016 but has not ruled out quitting or taking a greater involvement in a team.

The sport has only four engine-makers; McLaren's partner Honda is struggling even more than Renault and equally keen on constant development.

Red Bull, which had won four consecutive Drivers' and Constructors' titles until Mercedes took both in 2014, has also suggested it could be forced out if it does not have a competitive engine.

Renault F1’s managing director Cyril Abiteboul said in March 2015: "We are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of F1."

However, in May 2015 he said Renault, which championed the V6 engines before their introduction, had a long-term plan.

The Frenchman said: "Our plans right now are to stick with what we are, we are an engine supplier and we have to do a better job on the technical side. We have had our difficulties, that's what we need to focus on."

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.


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