JUNE 30, 2015
Formula E means 2016 not lost year for Renault
Success in Formula E means 2015 will not be a "lost year" for Renault.
That is the view of Cyril Abiteboul, who is managing director of the French carmaker's formula one arm, Renault Sport F1.
Renault is having a nightmare run at the beginning of the sport's 'power unit' era, struggling in 2014 but arguably then making a backwards step for 2015.
The marque's CEO Carlos Ghosn is not even ruling out quitting F1 altogether, amid the constant din of complaints from team partner Red Bull.
In the new all-electric FIA series Formula E, however, things could scarcely have gone better for Renault this year, as the Dams-Renault outfit involving Alain Prost won the inaugural teams' title.
"Renault has a very good position," F1 chief Abiteboul is quoted by Le Figaro, "as we also participated in the creation of this championship technically.
"We will not win in F1 this year but it will not be a lost year because of Formula E," he added.
For Renault's ongoing involvement in F1, on the other hand, the signs are ominous.
Ghosn is not ruling out the formation of a works Renault F1 team, but he said at the London finale of the Formula E calendar that the "only certainty" is Renault's continuing commitment to the burgeoning electric series.
When asked about the uncertainty surrounding Renault's future in formula one, Abiteboul said: "If we are in F1, it is to be there at the highest level.
"We will not be satisfied with the current situation and above all we will return to re-establishing our performance after achieving reliability.
"After that, we have a number of options," said the Frenchman.
"We took the decision in 2009 to leave our (works) team, but not to slam the door on F1. Today, Renault does not have its own team so it needs a top team (partner).
"Red Bull clearly spares no expense when it comes to the chassis, so I continue to believe that there is nothing in theory that precludes the maintenance of the strategic relationship between Red Bull and Renault," Abiteboul added.
"If we are not capable of coming to an agreement and want to stay in F1, one solution is to have our own team, but today it is true that a decision is absolutely yet to be made.
"But if we wished, we would have the means and the expertise," he said.
One of the factors under consideration, Abiteboul admitted, is the balance between the high cost of formula one, and the value it gives to the Renault brand.
"It is that equation that we look at every year -- we regularly review how F1 is evolving," he said.
"It's still a sport that continues to attract half a billion viewers and allows us to be present in important markets for us. We see it as a great shortcut to building brand awareness."