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FEBRUARY 10, 2001

Renault boss endorses F1 future

FORMULA 1 is an absolutely crucial marketing tool for Renault and the company's acquisition of the Benetton team is a crucial step in further enhancing the French car maker's international profile.

That was the strong message from Patrick Faure, executive vice president of Renault and chairman and CEO of Renault Sport, at the last week's official unveiling of the new Benetton B201 in St. Marks Square, Venice.

"Benetton is a company with which Renault have worked very efficiently in the past," he said, referring to Michael Schumacher's 1995 world championship success. "But it is important to understand why Renault has decided to come back into F1 ( as a team owner) after quitting in 1997.

"There are two reasons. Firstly, there is still the sporting challenge; we have never won a Championship with out own car, although we came close with Alain Prost in the 1980s.

"Secondly, we have previously been concentrating on a European market competition, but having recently taken control of Nissan we are now vying amongst the top five car makers in the world.

"If we want to sell four million cars in 2010 we need to be known outside Europe, and what better way than in F1, which is known all over the planet?"

As far as targets for F1 achievement are concerned, Faure was cautious. "I don't want to give targets, but we are ambitious," he said.

"For the moment we have to incorporate up to 50 new people in our two bases at Viry-Chatillon and Enstone. So the challenge is to mix those two teams into one entity in order to prepare to challenge for the World Championship in 2001."