DECEMBER 6, 2005
A point of interest
In the course of the recent round of F1 politicking one thing has stood out as being rather odd. Renault is rumoured to be pushing for the new F1 financial deal to come in before 2008. This is interesting and rival teams are of the opinion that this signals that the new top management of Renault is not as committed to F1 as much as the old regime. The new chairman Carlos Ghosn, who took over this year, is no romantic. Winning the World Championship was a good achievement but for Ghosn the purpose of F1 is to sell more cars and make rather than spend money.
"We must associate this winning car and team to our products on the road, transposing strong Formula 1 values such as reliability and technological excellence," he says. "It is also important to capitalise on our success in markets where Renault is little known, such as China, Russia and others into which we are expanding, to tell them that Renault are champions."
Sending out that message to customers through dealerships around the world by means of F1-related products and accessories is a sensible strategy but what the sport wants to hear from Ghosn is that Renault is committed beyond the end of 2007. Thus far he is not saying much on that subject indeed one might say that there has been a crashing silence about the long-term future of Renault in F1. The word in F1 circles is that no-one would be very surprised if Renault sold the team and stayed on as an engine manufacturer. That would help pay off some of the investment made and at the same time keep the company in the sport in the minds of the general public. This is pure speculation at the moment but until Ghosn says something that indicates more commitment, it is inevitable that F1 people will talk.
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