Renault is conducting a full evaluation of its involvement in single seater racing as part of the review on its future in F1, focusing on a cost-effective approach to racing that will offer the marque the best return on its investments.
The French manufacturer has confirmed that it plans to resurrect its young driver programme and has been linked to major involvement in the new F2 championship, which is due to be finalised in the coming months.
Driving Renault’s future
Cyril Abiteboul, Managing Director of Renault Sport F1, spoke with Motorsport.com to confirm that the company’s restructured approach would focus on cutting costs and increasing the return on its sporting and marketing activities.
“You only need to see the driver wages for a team like Mercedes versus the driver costs for a team like Red Bull or Torro Rosso. I think that Red Bull/Torro Rosso wages are just a fraction of those of Mercedes, and that is fantastic.”
“So that tells us a lesson about what we should do and how we can improve what we are doing. What we know is that we want to be in this category, which is single seaters, if possible, with F1 at the top. But we need to do that in a much more cost efficient manner, which serves the business and the marketing story much better than what we are doing now.”
Focus on young drivers
Renault recently announced that it would be withdrawing its backing for Formula Renault 3.5, but Abiteboul is eager to impress that the manufacturer’s young driver programme is still a core part of its racing model.
“What is for sure, if we have to be in F1, is I am a big fan of driver programmes. We had that in the past, but maybe it was a bit too ambitious because we had a lot of drivers.”
“We got more return being identified as the one who identified [Fernando] Alonso, than the first one who allowed Lewis Hamilton to get behind the wheel of a single seater. If you were to question everyone in the paddock, even those who know very well Lewis’ career, Fernando is definitely connected to Renault.”
“So we need to build on that, and that is why I am a big believer in a young driver programme.”
Creating a sporting blueprint
It is clear that the recent pressures from Red Bull on the French manufacturers uncompetitive powertrain are an underlying factor in its motorsport review, but Abiteboul’s comments come at a time when cost cutting is a central theme in F1.
If Renault is able to streamline its approach and remain in the highest single seater category, it could well provide a benchmark for other manufacturers either already present in F1 or those assessing the viability of the sport.
It is a bold move, but one that may well pay off. Watch this space.