PEOPLE: CHRISTIAN CONTZEN
Name: Christian Contzen
Christian Contzen is the managing-director of Renault Sport and has been with the French car company since he joined as an after-sales representative in Brussels in 1960. He worked his way up through the Renault hierarchy in sales, spares and distribution until in 1984 he was appointed director of a major Renault dealership in Nice, France. The following year he was commercial director for the Tours region of France and by 1987 had become marketing director of the company.
Four years later he was appointed managing-director of Renault Sport and he led the operation through the successful years with Williams, winning the World Championship with Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. In 1994 he was heavily involved in the decision to supply Benetton with the engines, which resulted in Michael Schumacher winning the World Championship in 1995. Further success came for Renault Sport with Damon Hill in 1996 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.
When Renault Sport withdrew from F1 at the end of 1997, a small team of engineers at Viry-Chatillon continued to work on the development of the F1 engines. This work was funded by Mecachrome in 1998 and in 1999 by Flavio Briatore's Supertec company.
Renault Sport also worked on other projects, including an aero-engine and engines for Jean-Louis Schlesser's desert buggies which proved very successful in rally raids. Renault Sport itself returned to F1 in 2000 when it bought the Benetton team but he was replaced as managing-director of Renault Sport in January 2002.