Cyril Abiteboul reiterated that Renault plans on remaining involved in racing for a long time, despite concerns arising over the future of the French marque due to the Coronavirus crisis.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire warned that Renault “has its very existence at stake”, considering to close at least four plants in France in order to reduce costs. F1 has done its part in tackling the emergency and limiting the damage for teams, given the financial crisis’s major repercussions on the sport. With the approval of a $145m budget cap for 2021 along with a number of additional cost-saving measures, Abiteboul believes that F1 is bound to become a more inclusive environment, with teams cooperating for the sake of the sport and enticing new manufacturers to join it.
"It's a major crisis, so it's difficult to assume now what will be really the (global economic) effect, but all the things that are happening: better money distribution from prize fund, lower budget cap...much lower than it was and we've been pushing for years for this type of figures, so frankly...will probably be very good for us. Very close to the level at which we've been operating”.
"It's a much better business model in my opinion. If the condition was good enough for a number of manufacturers to join the sport in the past, they will be even better tomorrow” he added.
“Our voice has finally been heard as maybe a voice that is representing common sense. All of that is pointing in the right direction for those who are already in the sport, I have a firm belief into that”.
Automotive has been heavily affected by the two-month lockdown in Europe, as the sales of light vehicles have significantly dropped (-76%) since the beginning of the year. Doubts had previously been cast on Renault’s long-term commitment in F1, with its current financial struggles only putting additional uncertainty over its future. However, Abiteboul is adamant that the French manufacturer wishes to stay true to Formula 1, also owing to the sport's strong influence on the international market.
“We've been in Formula 1 since the '70s. We've been loyal to Formula 1 and clearly as we look forward I think it's important to stay true to your roots, to where you're coming from, to your history, not just because of loyalty but also because it means something in the narrative that you can appeal to today's and tomorrow's customers”.
"Motorsport has a unique value and contribution into it. That's why we believe in it, just like we believe in a number of marketing activities, except that it's sport, except that it's been a core of technology. That's racing, that's emotion also, and Renault stands for emotion. So all of that means a lot. And that's why we've been in this for decades and we intend to do so for very long".
"You want to have a clear narrative as to why a consumer should be interested in your brand and your product, rather than others. And I think what you have in your DNA, in your history and your legacy counts to a certain degree much more than anything else."
It was reported that the French government, which owns 15% of Renault’s shares, expects car manufacturers vying for financial support to develop and produce electric vehicles. The Renault-Nissan alliance is also involved in Formula E, which most regard as a testing ground for pioneering innovations. Nonetheless, Abiteboul firmly believes that F1 will still lead the way as a trailblazer in new technologies, trialling devices and solutions that can be transferred into Formula E, rather than the other way around.