Carlos Ghosn was one of the biggest figures in the global car industry until his arrest in 2019 for alleged financial misconduct and since this event the knock-on effects have been felt throughout motorsport due to Ghosn’s ties with Nissan and Renault. For Renault’s F1 team in particular, their long-term future is still in doubt and one of the decisive points to keep the team in the pinnacle of motorsport, according to Renault Formula 1 Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul, could depend on the 2021 regulations and new Concorde Agreement.
Renault Formula 1 Team Principal Cyril Abiteboul says the 2021 regulations and new Concorde Agreement will be key to the manufacturer's decision over its future in the championship.
This uncertainty came when former Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn was released from his position due to his ongoing criminal proceedings and Renault's interim management took over which resulted in a review of all of Renault’s activities, in an ever-changing motor industry – and this included Formula One.
Cyril Abiteboul sounds confident that the revised commercial arrangements in place for 2021, and the $175million cost cap, should provide a springboard for Renault to get back on top with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull Racing. Let’s not forget that Renault won back to back Drivers’ and Constructors’ Formula One World Championships in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso at the wheel of the Renault R25 and then consequently the Renault R26.
Cyril Abiteboul shared his thoughts on Renault’s F1 future with Autosport this past weekend.
"I think we are the main beneficiary of the 2021 deal and set of regulations. I can't say that they've been engineered for us, but for sure it goes in our direction. From my perspective, everything that we've built we've done it with 2021 in mind, and everyone is aware of that, including at Renault corporate. The figures speak for themselves. Having said that, until a decision is made the decision is not made."
Should Renault depart from the Formula 1 circus, there is no shortage of teams throughout the grid that would be interested in recruiting Daniel Ricciardo to their ranks and many articles have been written on the prospect of the much-loved Aussie heading to the silver of Mercedes or the red of Scuderia Ferrari.
However, as Cyril Abiteboul himself has said, Renault is in no rush to make a decision and is more than happy to take its time to study the full implications of the Concorde Agreement.
"I think it's a parallel stream…On one side there is what the team is committed to do, with the FIA, with FOM…There is lots of discussion going on about the documentation itself. We've seen hundreds of pages of contract, and it takes a while. There's also the stream having to keep on moving and improving and progressing in terms of our own performance in parallel.”
Such a decision to remain or leave Formula 1 would not be taken lightly and many areas of the company are involved with having to reach a decision. Cyril Abiteboul knows that the success of Renault in F1 has a big impact on the success of Renault when it comes to car sales – which in its essence is why F1 exists after all.
"Renault is indeed making its own strategy and plans. We still have a management in interim, so we are indeed in contact on a regular basis with that management. The two will happen in parallel, and I hope will develop in a nice way.”
Formula One fans should also hope the outcome is a nice one because in an era when we lose so called ‘smaller teams’ from the grid, to lose Renault would be something no one wants to see.