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Changes at Renault

RENAULT has been reshaping its management in recent days - which could mean that a change in attitude towards FormulaŹ1 racing. In recent months Renault's decisions about Formula 1 have been taken by Executive Vice-President Carlos Ghosn. He becomes chief executive of the Nissan Motor Company later this week with the aim of returning the company - which is effectively controlled by Renault - to profit as soon as possible. Nissan departing bosses say that they would like to buy an equal shareholding in Renault as agreed but Ghosn says this will have to wait until Nissan has more money available.

Even without Nissan money, Renault is doing well at the moment but it remains to be seen whether or not there is enough money about for an estimated $100m investment in a new Formula 1 engine. Renault chairman Louis Schweitzer says the company will only return to F1 if it thinks it will enjoy the kind off success it enjoyed between 1993 and 1997. The Renault Sport team has been weakened in recent months by the departure of a number of key engineers and Toyota and BMW are trying hard to recruit others.

With Ghosn having moved on, much will depend on the attitude of his replacement Belgian Pierre-Alain de Smeldt, who moves to Renault from his current position as boss of the Volkswagen-owned Seat company.

The board of directors at Renault have, incidentally, agreed that Schweitzer will stay on as chairman of the company for the next six years.

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