Renault F1 boss sees every reason for carmaker to continue

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault have yet to confirm their Formula One future but team boss Cyril Abiteboul sees every reason for the French carmaker to continue for years to come.

Renault's F1 Team managing director Cyril Abiteboul attends a news conference ahead of the new Formula One 2020 season, in Paris, France, February 12, 2020. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

All the teams are negotiating a new commercial agreement with rights holders Liberty Media and the governing FIA for a new era starting in 2021, with major rules changes set to make racing cheaper and more competitive.

Abiteboul said the difference for Renault, compared to champions Mercedes and rivals Ferrari, was that the French team operated on a smaller budget.

They therefore stood to benefit from a fairer share of the revenues and the imposition of a cost cap.

“We will get a major improvement of our terms,” Abiteboul told Reuters at a season launch event at the Atelier Renault on Paris’s Champs Elysees.

“I have right now all the reasons to believe Renault will execute that (new) contract as soon as its ready,” he added.

“I have every reason to believe that in principal we are in it for the long term.”

Renault finished last season fifth overall, dropping from fourth the previous year with McLaren moving up, and Abiteboul said regaining position in the pecking order was a realistic target.

He said changes in Renault management, with former Seat head Luca de Meo recently named as the company’s next chief executive and finance chief Clotilde Delbos becoming deputy CEO, was a positive for the F1 team.

While not knowing De Meo, Abiteboul noted the new boss’s record in creating a more sporty image for the Volkswagen-owned Seat brand.

“The single most important piece of information is the fact that Clotilde Delbos...will remain as deputy,” he added. “It means that there will be a continuity of the governance, a continuity also of the decisions.

“It means that everything we are discussing to date with Mrs Delbos will be valid even once Luca de Meo has arrived.

“I know where we are, I know where Clotilde is... and frankly if you look at Formula One from a financial perspective, from a figures perspective, it’s a cost but also an asset and an investment.”

Delbos announced last October that all aspects of Renault’s business, including Formula One, were being examined.

The French firm has presented 2020 as a make-or-break year for its alliance with Nissan and is under pressure to deliver on cost savings and joint industrial projects.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis