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Renault gears up for new F1 program

AS we have been suggesting since last summer Renault Sport seems to be moving towards a new Formula 1 program in either 2001 or 2002. The French car company has done much better than expected and although there is still considerable work to be done before its sister company Nissan is profitable again, progress is being made.

Well-connected sources in France are now saying that Renault has recently invested a considerable amount of money in Renault Sport and that the engineers at Viry-Chatillon have been told to take as many risks as they like in order to make breakthroughs which will give the company a winning F1 engine. This has enabled them to embark on research which was previously considered to be too expensive or too risky to consider.

The program is under the guidance of 42-year-old American engineer John Topolsky, who has been working with Renault since 1984. In the early 1990s Topolsky was Jean-Jacques His's deputy in the research and development department at Renault Sport and he gave up an important research and development job in Renault production cars to take on this new role of technical director of Renault Sport.

Officially, however, no decision about F1 has yet been taken. Benetton is obviously keen on landing the engine deal while Arrows is also believed to be in the running thanks to Tom Walkinshaw's industrial links with Renault. It remains to be seen whether the engines will be badged Renault or Nissan.

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