Q&A with Renault's Patrick Faure


The Renault F1 Team President discusses the team's spectacular start to the 2005 season.

Patrick, how pleased have you been with the team’s start to the season?
Patrick Faure: It has been a real pleasure to see the team make an almost perfect start to the season. Giancarlo and Fernando have each taken an impressive victory, and those wins represent the first fruits of the excellent work at Viry and Enstone under Flavio Briatore’s leadership. We have put the necessary resources in place, we have the right people and good technical support from Renault: those factors are all now beginning to pay off. These first races have encouraged us that the Renault F1 Team will be capable of fighting at the forefront this season.

The team is far from having the biggest budget in the pit-lane – so how has this success been achieved?
PF: Since Renault has been involved in Formula 1, we have always been cost-conscious, and have managed our involvement in a cost-effective manner. The Renault group is a large, global company with over one hundred thousand employees, and if we invest in Formula 1, it needs to be a wise investment. You cannot race without any money at all, but an excess is almost always counter-productive. We believe we know where money needs to be spent, and how to get the best return on our investment. We are achieving results on the back of reasonable investments.

Is delivering value for money to your sponsors a priority?
PF: We have had a very stable commercial platform for a long time, with companies such as Mild Seven, Elf, Michelin and Hanjin. They have been with us for many years, and stayed loyal to us while the team was building back up in recent years. Now we are fighting at the front, they are getting plenty of visibility and big returns on their investments.

Beyond funding, personnel are a key factor in Renault’s success. Is the departure of Bernard Dudot from Viry a worry?
PF: Bernard returned to the team during a difficult period two years ago, when we had to put Viry back on track towards achieving performance and reliability. We did not need to build the best engine in F1, but rather the best engine for winning races as part of an overall package. He had a big influence in putting our house in order, installing the right organisation and processes. But from the outset, Bernard had said he did not want to stay forever, and we agreed on a period of two years. This is an appropriate time for the transition to happen, and the structure that is now in place with Rob White and André Lainé will give Viry what it needs to continue succeeding.

Since 2002, you have insisted upon the importance of the F1 programme to the Renault Group as a whole. Is that still the case?
PF: I think that everybody at Renault has enjoyed being part of our excellent results so far this year: they had seen the good results from testing, but were not sure if they could be backed up in the races. The first two Grands Prix have been a fantastic source of motivation within the company, and people are now starting to let themselves believe that we may be fighting for more than race wins this year…

Does this enthusiasm extend to the showroom floor?
PF: You only need to speak to the salespeople and dealers who work in the showrooms for confirmation. The results in Formula One create an atmosphere of enthusiasm and an excitement around the brand for customers and employees alike. It gives our salespeople a real boost to go into their commercial battle with an asset like the Formula One programme in their armoury.

For 2005, Renault has created a pyramid of single-seater motorsport, from Formula Renault to Formula 1. What does it represent?
PF: This year will see Renault become the clear benchmark for single seater motorsport involvement, stretching from Formula Renault, through the new World Series and GP2 series, all the way to F1. We are offering a sensibly-priced, logical stepladder through the junior levels of motorsport. I think it demonstrates that we have a consistency of objective, commitment and ambition that reflect well what kind of company Renault is today: a group with a clear, well-established strategy, and that has high ambitions for the coming years.

Finally, negotiations about the future of Formula One are ongoing. What can you tell us about the situation?
PF: We are currently in a phase of serious but discrete negotiation, which is as it should be for the discussions to be effective. But the baseline is simple: we will not deviate from our objectives of obtaining more money for the teams, greater transparency in Formula One operations, and acquiring for the manufacturers a greater say in the running of the sport. For those same manufacturers are the ones who, today, constitute the backbone of the sport.

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Published: 02/04/2005
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