February 12, 2019 / 4:09 PM / 6 days ago

Motor racing: Business as usual for Renault F1 after Ghosn exit

ENSTONE, England (Reuters) - The departure of scandal-hit Renault chairman and chief executive Carlos Ghosn changes nothing for the French carmaker’s involvement in Formula One, team president Jerome Stoll said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Formula One F1 - Brazilian Grand Prix - Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil - November 11, 2018 RenaultÕs Carlos Sainz Jr and Nico Hulkenberg in action during the race REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker/File Photo

Speaking at the launch of the team’s 2019 car at their English factory, the Renault Sport Racing boss told reporters that the company remained fully committed.

“OK, Carlos Ghosn is gone but (new Renault CEO) Thierry Bollore is a real fan of Formula One,” he said.

“Despite his very busy agenda, he came to (the Renault techno center) in Viry in late December to make an address to all the staff and restate the fact he was a strong sponsor and it was not because Carlos Ghosn was no more the chairman that Renault will limit its commitment to the Formula One competition.

“He came, he made his address, it was very clear — 200 people in front of him — and he said we are here, the strategy remains the same.”

Renault replaced Ghosn in January, more than two months after his arrest in Japan over allegations of financial misconduct uncovered by Renault’s Japanese partner Nissan, which he also chaired.

Stoll, 64, had been due to stand down this year but remained in place after his designated successor Thierry Koskas suddenly left the Renault Group.

Renault finished fourth in Formula One last year and are aiming to close the gap on Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull before targeting podiums, wins and a championship challenge under a five-year plan.

They have signed popular Australian Daniel Ricciardo, a race winner from Red Bull, and invested heavily in upgrading the factory.

Stoll warned however that the carmaker was very concerned by the lack of a clear plan for the sport beyond 2020 when current commercial agreements expire.

He said Renault and U.S.-owned commercial rights holders Liberty Media were aligned on key proposals such as implementation of a cost cap and the redistribution of revenues, but swift action was needed.

“The Concorde (Agreement between teams, rights holder and governing FIA) will come to an end within two years, and we need visibility to know what is going to be the next step after,” said Stoll. “My main concern is to have a decision.

“We are pushing. I had several discussions with (Formula One chairman) Chase Carey about that. He promised the decision would be taken by late last year. No decision has been taken. So I’m going to push.

“As soon as I meet him again at Melbourne (for the opening race on March 17) or maybe in Barcelona (for testing) next week I’m going to start again to push him. What is your planning? When can you take a decision? It’s crucial for us.”

Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Keith Weir

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