F1 News: End of the road for Renault?
The future of Renault‘s F1 team could be known as early as next week, as the French car manufacturer stares into the abyss, with finance minister, Bruno Le Maire admitting the company is in “serious financial difficulty” and could “disappear”.
At a time the company is said to be considering dropping a number of its models and closing several of its factories, with talk of partner Nissan shedding up to 20,000 jobs alone, mainly in Europe, the French finance minister, Bruno Le Maire has admitted that the car manufacturer is in “serious financial difficulty”.
Among the factories being considered for closure is its flagship facility at Flins, north of Paris.
“Flins must not close,” Le Maire told Europe 1 radio. “This is the position of the government and the state shareholder.”
The French government and Nissan are the biggest shareholders in Renault, each holding a 15% stake.
The government is currently in talks to loan the manufacturer $5.4bn, which Le Maire has yet to sign off.
“We sign when we know what Renault’s strategy is,” he said. “We want Renault to be more productive and to produce even more of its vehicles, particularly electric, in France.”
The future of the company’s F1 team has been in doubt for some time. Despite being the driving force behind the introduction of the hybrid formula, which it has never mastered, winning just 12 (9.9%) of the 121 races held since it was introduced in 2014, the team, which finished ‘best of the rest’ in 2018, slipped to fifth last year behind McLaren.
While Red Bull and Toro Rosso previously used its engines, both subsequently switched to Honda, and while McLaren currently uses the French power units it switches to Mercedes next season, leaving Renault only supplying its own team.
In the wake of Sebastian Vettel‘s split with Ferrari, clearly seeing the writing on the wall, Daniel Ricciardo, who was on a two-year contract with Renault at around £20m a year, jumped ship to McLaren, replacing Carlos Sainz who is heading to Maranello.
A proposed merger with Fiat Chrysler, which would have created the world’s third biggest car manufacturer, fell through last year, while the company, which was already damaged by the Carlos Ghosn scandal, has, like most manufacturers, been hit hard by the effects on sales as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The French manufacturer is due to reveal its cost reduction plans next Friday (29th), with all the signs being that the plug will be pulled on its F1 programme.