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DATE News (chronologically)
Renault and Toyota to quit F1 UPDATE #9 This rumor is essentially 'fact' now as Toyota is gone and Renault is 75% gone.  How long before they are 100% gone.  Honda, BMW, Toyota and now Renault.  Who will be next?  The very manufacturers who fought for Mosley's removal as President of the FIA after he ram-rodded much needed F1 cost saving measures down their throat, are now scurrying away like rats off a sinking ship because they can no longer afford F1.  Thankfully for F1, the genius of Mosley allowed him to get his cost saving measures through before he was gone and we now long life engines, standard ECUs, standard tires, private teams again and customer engines from an independent supplier like Cosworth.

12/04/09 Renault remains quiet about the executive committee meeting yesterday during which the future of the company in Formula 1 was one of the subjects under discussion. According to the latest sources in France the company has been looking for an exit strategy which will allow the company to leave without breaking the Concorde Agreement. Although it is believed that there are no sanctions specifically mentioned in the agreement, it is nonetheless a binding legal document and the signatories can therefore seek compensation if any party fails to keep its commitments. Clause 4.2 states that “each team undertakes to participate in the FIA F1 Championship each year for the duration of the term and to participate in every event”.

There are believed to be various get-out clauses for force majeure, such as wars, earthquakes, revolutions and so on but these do not cover lack of funding nor a management change of mind.

The agreement does allow for a team to be sold to another party and such a team can be renamed if the F1 Commission agrees. The situation is believed to be rather more complicated than originally thought, with two groups wishing to take over the team: one is popular with the Renault management in Paris; the other with the top management of the team in England. The danger is that if Renault sells the team to the wrong group, the major players will depart. Several are believed to have jobs lined up already.

The first of the two bidders is a company called GenII Capital, a Luxembourg-based private investment company, which invests in brands and ideas. This involves Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux, two men who have invested in such concepts as a Charlie Chaplin Museum in Switzerland, in the design of an alternative energy engine and a driver management organization called Gravity, which has a number of drivers involved, including China’s Ho Ping Tung. It is rumored that Gravity is also on the verge of signing Kamui Kobayashi. The partners are keen for the F1 project to pay for itself and would like to do B2B deals with Renault over technology that they are developing. They seem willing to keep the team as Renault F1 for two years. According to French sources this put them on pole position for the purchase.

However, David Richards is also bidding and wants to turn the team into Aston Martin in two years from now. This is believed to be the preferred option of the team members in England but may not be quite as attractive to Renault. It is believed, however, that the team would continue to use Renault engines for at least two years and they may be offering more money than GenII Capital, although this is not certain as the backers of Aston Martin have had some financial difficulties in recent years. Having said that Kuwait is a wealthy country, sitting as it does on 8% of the world’s known oil reserves. The global financial crisis has slowed the pace of investment and development projects, but Kuwait has the financial resources to do as it pleases in the longer term. Among those involved in the company are the Efad Group, which is involved in banking, insurance, real estate, the hospitality industry and the service sector., Kuwait’s Public Institution for Social Security , the business empire of Mohamed Saleh and Reza Yousuf Behbehani, which is the distributor and the agent for various well-known brands specialized in automobiles, tires, watches, luxury luggage products, soft drinks and beverages, printing equipment, and soil test equipment; and the Mutawa & Al Kazi Company a major dealer in the automotive industry in Kuwait, which imports and distributes premier brands such as Honda. There are around 800 investors in the business from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman. The company has recently come to terms with its investors over its plans for the future after being caught out in the financial crisis. Joe Saward

12/03/09 Mangrove Capital Partners will join with David Richards and Prodrive to manage the Renault F1, but he team will not be sold

At a meeting of the Board in Paris today, the future of Renault in Formula 1 was established. Although pending confirmation by the Renault Board of Directors, which will meet next week, but according to information provided by 'Motorsport-Total.com,' is a done deal, Mangrove Capital Partners and Prodrive will take over the team.

Accordingly, the automobile manufacturer to the racing will not sell, but leave only the operational management of Mangrove completely. The logic is obvious: Mangrove will pay for the running costs, and skim any excess earnings from sponsorship deals, for example, for the most part themselves. With the Russian mobile phone company MegaFon Mangrove as a big sponsor on the hook.

Behind Mangrove stands the businessman Gerard Lopez, who has made an offer in the summer to BMW. Lopez, for example controls the driver management company Gravity, that manages Chinese driver Ho-Pin Tung. Tung came this week for his first test in a Formula 1 Renault - given recent developments, may be no coincidence.

12/03/09 (GMM)  Renault is reportedly devising an exit plan from formula one and it could involve selling its chassis-producing factory at Enstone to David Richards' Prodrive company.

But the French carmaker intends to remain an engine supplier to the new Prodrive team as well as Red Bull at least for the next few years, the article in Wednesday morning's print edition of the French sports daily L'Equipe added.

The report, written by former Renault engine boss Denis Chevrier's wife Anne Giuntini, added that Richards' latest F1 plans involve the backing of a minor car manufacturer that is new to F1.

Reportedly, Richards would relocate his entire Prodrive operation from Banbury to Enstone as part of the deal, but L'Equipe cautioned that Renault is also considering alternate buyers for the UK facility.

"We will make an announcement the day we have something interesting to announce," a Prodrive spokesperson is quoted as saying.

"The truth is that Prodrive, whose candidacy was not accepted by the FIA for 2010, will be ready to take part in F1, on the condition of being able to be competitive and that the company be viable," the spokesperson added.

12/01/09 (GMM)  A Swiss specialist publication has identified a link between Renault's surprising driver choice for this week's Jerez test, and a potential buyer for the Enstone based team.

It was rumored last month that Renault may be considering staying in formula one as an engine supplier next year but withdrawing as a full constructor.

Motorsport Aktuell named Gerard Lopez, co-founder of venture capital firm Mangrove, as one prospective buyer.

Some insiders expressed surprise recently when Ho-Pin Tung, a Dutch born Chinese who has recently been driving in the A1 and Superleague series, was named alongside Lucas di Grassi and Bertrand Baguette for Renault's Jerez test lineup.

But a statement issued by the 26-year-old highlighted the fact that he is handled by the sports management company Gravity.

"Today we have come to the point where we can say we are at the threshold of formula one," Tung is quoted as saying.

Motorsport Aktuell reveals that Mangrove's Gerard Lopez is also involved with Gravity, therefore perhaps explaining Tung's Renault test.

It may also be significant that a large delegation of Chinese media is covering the Jerez test this week, including the state television broadcaster CCTV.

11/18/09 (GMM)  Renault has received an offer to sell 40 per cent of its formula one team to a Russian bidder, Finland's Turun Sanomat reports.

The newspaper said a deal could result in the Russian Vitaly Petrov signing to be Robert Kubica's 2010 teammate, and might explain Timo Glock's move to Manor despite his earlier strong links to the French squad.

Red Bull Racing is also having to wait before it can officially announce its plans to stay with Renault power in 2010, even though Adrian Newey has so far designed the RB6 around the 2.4 liter V8 unit.

The Finnish reports of a partial team sale were backed by the German newspaper Bild, which said Renault wants to urgently raise 30 million euros in order to bolster its F1 program.

11/05/09 Toyota's F1 departure is now 'fact' but according to this Hot News item, Renault will remain in F1 in 2010.

11/04/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today but do not be surprised if it soon becomes 'fact.'  Renault is to discuss pulling out of Formula 1 at an emergency board meeting in Paris on Wednesday.

The French car company will decide whether to remain in the sport with its own team, switch to simply being an engine supplier or quit altogether.

The news comes on the day that Toyota announced its decision to quit F1, becoming the third car company to leave the sport in the last 11 months.

Renault is not expected to make public its decision on Wednesday. zzzz

The company does not want to distract attention from a publicity event on Thursday at which president Carlos Ghosn will promote the company's efforts at introducing zero-emission vehicles.

The emergency board meeting will be attended by Renault F1 bosses Bob Bell and Jean-Francois Caubet, but they will not be allowed to take part in the debate about the team's future.

A Renault spokeswoman was unable to comment. BBC

10/02/09 (GMM)  Renault's acting team boss does not think the French carmaker is about to quit formula one.

The team has been through the mill with the 'crash-gate' scandal, but Bob Bell believes the most telling sign is that Renault has remained committed throughout.

The team's image has been muddied, Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and title sponsor ING have all departed, and now star driver Fernando Alonso is set to switch to Ferrari for the 2010 season.

"It's been an extremely deep and difficult crisis, not just for the team but for the parent organization," Bell said at Suzuka.  "The fact Renault has stood by us through all this speaks volumes to their commitment both to the team and to formula one."

Asked however if he thinks Renault will be the next departure, he added: "They've stood by us and I think that answers the question for you."

09/21/09 (GMM)  If Renault pulls out of formula one after Monday's 'crash-gate' hearing of the World Motor Sport Council, Toyota may use the opportunity to also pull the plug, according to the latest speculation.

It is expected that the meeting will result in a $50m USD fine for the French carmaker Renault, and Martin Brundle wrote in his latest Sunday Times column that it could compel executives to conclude: "We're off".

"Many think Toyota will choose the same moment to exit and this would leave Red Bull and Williams without engines," the British commentator and former driver added.

To the Cologne newspaper Express, Toyota team president John Howett played down the latest rumors.

"We signed the Concorde Agreement, therefore Toyota is bound to formula one and we are planning completely normally for next season," said the Briton.

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