Two British-based F1 teams appear to be taking opposite paths this morning, as one raises questions over its future F1 involvement and the other is rumoured to have thrown its hat into the ring long-term.
Renault is reported to have written to its suppliers warning them not to take for granted its entry into the 2010 world championship.
According to Pitpass, the German press is quoting copies of a letter from the company’s France-based Renault Sport division confirming the possibility of a pull-out.
This could be terrible news for its Oxfordshire workforce – but, as is being widely reported, it could also set the stage for team principal Flavio Briatore to stage a Ross Brawn-style takeover. However that would not necessarily secure jobs, since the transition from Honda to Brawn GP cost the Brackley-based outfit around a third of its staff.
The letter reportedly reads: “There is the possibility that we will no longer be in Formula One in 2010. The far-reaching changes to the technical and sporting regulations have the consequence that Renault Sport can no longer be certain of its future in Formula One.
“It is possible that we will no longer participate in the Formula One world championship in 2010.”
In some ways this raises more questions than it answers because Renault Sport, based in the outskirts of Paris and run by Patrick Faure, is a separate outfit from Renault F1, based in Enstone, Oxfordshire and run by president Bernard Rey and Briatore.
On the other hand, the letter as reported does seem to be pretty clear. There is an assumption that it was originally written in German since it was leaked to a German motorsports website. It would be particularly interesting to know if the team has any British suppliers that have received such a letter.
If so it would be further bad news for a group of companies that has already been on the sharp end of the rough economic climate recently, with redundancies at Honda/Brawn GP, a 10 per cent staff cut at Mercedes’ Brixworth engine plant and the news that the British Grand Prix is moving out of Northamptonshire.
Meanwhile, Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has been having a war of words of his own with F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone, saying that it was about time competitors in the series started getting a bigger share of its revenues.
He told France’s National Assembly on Wednesday: “We are the ones doing the show, who bring in the technology, who bring in the engines, who hire the drivers. And if we do the show, the revenues of Formula 1 must come back to us.
“Today we pay to be in Formula 1; that is not normal. Intermediaries have made enough money with this. We want to take back control of Formula 1.”
In a separate development, the suspicion is emerging that Dietrich Mateschitz, energy drink magnate and boss of the Buckinghamshire-based Red Bull team, may have broken with the manufacturers to enter the 2010 series unconditionally.
F1 commentator James Allen is reporting that the team was one of three due to meet with Max Mosley today.
It was recently revealed, via Michael Schmidt of Auto Motor und Sport, that the five teams associated with manufacturers (Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes, BMW, Renault and Toyota) have all signed a â‚¬50 million bond ensuring their loyalty to FOTA.
Honda employee-turned team boss Ross Brawn has also pledged his loyalty after receiving support from the teams over the winter, leaving Mateschitz rather conspicuous by his recent silence.
The stories have started up because an article in the Daily Express indirectly quotes Bernie Ecclestone as saying he has Red Bull and Toro Rosso on board alongside Williams and Force India until 2012.
Neither team has independently confirmed this, however, and we invite you to make of it what you will.