Renault’s managing director Jean-François Caubet insists the can maker is fit to stay in F1 for 2010.
“We have already contracted our drivers, had our budget approved, and are enrolled in the world championship,” Caubet told daily sports newspaper L’Équipe . “Season 2010 has begun already. We will not be world champions in 2010, but we do have hopes to be much improved.”
While this is certainly the decision many in F1 want to hear, there is no official statement from the team as of yet.
It seems logical that Renault would discuss their future in F1 as their results have been very dismal and the 2008 Singapore race-fix incident cost them dearly.
Toyota’s announcement of their departure from F1 effective immediately may have given board members cold feet and the perfect timing to bow out.
If Caubet is speaking on behalf of the company, then perhaps we will see another year for Renault—a growing year, no doubt, as the team has lost its upper management, engineer, and star driver.
It could be argued that Renault’s position is tenuous regardless of their 2010 commitment. Some in the media have suggested that perhaps a 2010 commitment would be swiftly followed by an exodus in 2011 and that the manufacture would only remain as an engine supplier.
Supplying engines is also part of what the team will do in 2010 as well, as Red Bull announced their intention to remain with the French engine maker.
Renault has also signed highly-rated Robert Kubica as their lead driver for 2010 and one could assume that it is more than a one-year contract.
Toyota has left question marks, namely at the FIA and FOM HQ’s, regarding the legal actions that could be leveraged against them by their departure from F1.
Toyota, like Renault, signed the Concorde Agreement extension, which placed strict penalties on teams that left before the end of the 2012 season.
While the FIA has been rattling sabers the last 24 hours regarding possible law suits, it has to be something Renault considered when discussing their options.
Last summer, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) placed a $50 million fine on any team leaving the organization prematurely after Williams bailed out on the group to side with the FIA’s application process.
If one extrapolates this line of thinking, you could safely make a blind leap to a similar fee for breaking the FIA’s Concorde Agreement.
A fan could also presume that Renault’s mission in F1 has historic precedent and prestige where Toyota’s was perhaps narrowly focused on Honda’s involvement.
We will all keep a close eye on the proceedings, but perhaps today we can collectively breathe a partial sigh of relief until the official word is given.