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Abiteboul: Agreement on budget cap more important than technical rules

NEWS STORY
24/03/2019

Lest we forget, Renault was the driving force behind the introduction of the hybrid formula in 2014, the French manufacturer, which has powered drivers to 11 titles and constructors to 12, warning that unless such a move were made it would walk away from F1.

Of course, as a constructor and engine manufacturer, Renault had previously walked away from the sport on numerous occasions, most recently at the end of 2010, and while this departure is often linked with the decisions of a number of the other manufacturers to leave around the same time, one should not forget the dark cloud hanging over the French team in the form of Crash-gate.

Since deciding to return to F1 in 2016, having bought back the team which had bought its 2010 operation, the French outfit has been a shadow of its former self. Failing to master the engine formula which it had itself demanded, the team, which immediately went about a major recruitment campaign while updating and expanding its facilities, clearly unable to match the success of the 'big three' essentially took the line of the smaller teams, demanding the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari be handicapped by the introduction of a budget cap, not to mention a more equal distribution of the prize pot and even demanding an end to the practice of B-teams, though Renault had used such a system itself previously.

All the while, Cyril Abiteboul, echoing his good friend Christian Horner, warned that unless there were major changes Renault would leave F1 (again), as the team, still losing ground to the big three, now found its role of 'best of the rest' under threat.

Speaking ahead of this week's meeting with F1, at which time the full plans for the sport post-2020 will be revealed, Abiteboul warned that, for Renault, the financial side of things takes precedence over the technical side.

"There is lots of dialogue between the teams and F1 and the FIA, in particular on the budget cap," he tells Motorsport.com. "That's a very complex set of new regulations, and something that did not exist. So every day, every week, we are making progress to address some of the concerns.

"As far as Renault is concerned, because we think that something needs to be seriously done to contain the costs to be competitive in F1, we are massively in support of the budget cap," he continues. "Is it the perfect answer? Maybe not. Is it the best answer? Probably.

"That's why we're working very actively to make it as robust as possible, and according to what will be our assessment at the end, we will see if we can be in favour, and we think it is a proper deterrent, or not. Lots of progress is being done on that aspect.

"I think we all accept that everyone needs to have some form of clarity before the summer," he adds, aware that the clock is ticking, and that there has to be agreement by June if the new rules - whatever they might be - are to be introduced in 2021. "In order to do that we need to seriously get things ticked off, in particular on the financial side, on the governance.

"For me the three things that can't wait are the financial distribution, the governance, and the budget cap," he admits, "anything that's related to the business, and the sustainability of the business model is important, because that's what will define whether or not F1 is still a compelling and attractive platform for 2021.

"Then I would almost say that the set of regulations is secondary. Once the budget cap is introduced then we move the exposure to the cost of the regulations, and then they can define almost any regulation they want. That's our opinion. That's why this side in particularly is very important to be sorted.

"It's complex," he admits, in a masterpiece of understatement. "They're trying to reconcile teams that have different business models, very distinctive set-ups.

"Right now it looks like they are not prepared to upset anyone," he says of the sport's owners, the driving force behind the proposed changes. "The risk and danger is that by doing that they end up upsetting everyone.

"That's why I think it's taking a lot of time to find something that would be able to satisfy everyone. I can see where they're coming from, I can understand their point. But I think the main thing to do is to make sure that F1 is and remains attractive.

"Right now it looks like they are afraid of losing one team, two teams, three teams," he continues, having previously confirmed Renault's stance in no uncertain terms.

"I think what's really important is instead of having to live in fear we make F1 a platform that is again attractive enough to attract enough teams, so that you are not held to ransom by anyone," he concludes, without a hint of irony.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by GarH, 25/03/2019 9:27

"@bfairey

There's plenty of evidence that few manufacturers can make winning race engines. The days of tuning a fork lift truck engine are far behind."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by bfairey, 25/03/2019 8:26

"Renault promoted the hybrid formula, which costs an arm and a leg
and now they want a budget cap. If F1 reverted back to a "simple"
engine ie a V6 with no gimmicks there would be no need for a budget cap
and various manufacturers could produce engines. "

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3. Posted by GarH, 24/03/2019 20:35

"I can't help but laugh at this from "Drive to Survive".

Abiteboul asked Horner, "You need a driver and an engine".

Horner responded, "Yup. Have you got any money to spend on
your engine now that you've spent it all on your driver?"

Abiteboul replied, "We have plenty of money".

Abiteboul was telling porkies, Renault hasn't got 'plenty of money'."

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4. Posted by Yougofirst, 24/03/2019 18:35

"I don't know how rich Renault is but assuming they bought back the team to be better than an also ran they knew it was going to cost them. I doubt they planned to exit F1 in a few years and I don't think those plans have really changed."

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