It's hard to believe that Renault, the current constructors champion in F1, is or was considering leaving the sport at the end of 2007. The current drivers champion Alonso, has already confirmed a move to Maclaren for 2007, and you can't help feel it is partly to do with the uncertain future of the team.It must be frustrating to the teams who are formula one through and through and who would never leave the sport unless forced to, then to see a team throw it all away. However there are now rumbles that team may last into and past 2008.Of course it's a money thing, what value does racing a formula one car, racing around a racetrack give to the manufacturers of cars?.The excuses are that the costs of Formula one are so high now that even a championship winning team does not bring a sufficient return back to the corporate business, especially at a time when car prices are at there lowest in real terms and car manufacturers are feeling the pinch.
What might save the day is the FIA's genuine attempt to reduce costs for all the teams.We have already seen actions in place with the one engine per two-race rule and limited amount of tyres to be used over a race weekend. The question seems to be, what can be done to further reduce costs without spoiling it for the spectators. It seems quite absurd that measures would take place to slow the cars down, but many of the recent regulations have been done, to do just that.
Smaller wings, narrower tyres, V10 engines now down to V8s that have 200 horse power less. Ironically 200 horse power less, has resulted in only fractions of a second time differences from the larger engines raced last season.But again this has all helped to reduce costs, give the smaller teams a chance to compete and with tobacco advertising no longer in abundance, a life line to survive.There is another morale issue here and that is the French public themselves. They maybe could understand a poor performing team, slipping out of F1 but a winning one? Renault is a national company part of the French culture and reputation, every time Renault win it brings pride to their country just as Alonso to Spain.
Any decisions will be made in June, when they will measure their success this season and have a clear idea if further cost cutting regulations will make the team cost effective. Alain Dassas has commented that if they can make the savings then they will commit. It's a shame that the Formula One experience has to be based around money, although what sport isn't nowadays.I personally look forward to Renault staying in F1 and showing us how good they are..
Mark is webmaster for Race Track Experience also Breakdown Recovery and Business Consultant Middlesbrough.
By: Mark Flanighan