Renault to buy Toro Rosso (7th Update)

UPDATE #7 This rumor is downgraded to 'false' – Renault bought the Lotus team.

04/02/15 This rumor is downgraded to 'speculation today. Red Bull has played down reports Renault is set to buy Toro Rosso — and leave the former world champions without an engine deal.

Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost said in Australia it would be "fantastic" if the French carmaker bought the Faenza based team, which is currently owned and controlled by Red Bull.

"It sounds like Franz wants to sell his team to (Renault's) Cyril (Abiteboul) and then we'd need an engine," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said last Friday.

Red Bull's relationship with Renault is obviously strained, but if the French marque did buy Toro Rosso, and complete its divorce with Red Bull, it might leave the energy drink company's premier team in a tight situation.

"Mercedes would refuse to supply Red Bull with an engine," said Horner, "it's unlikely that we would be in a position to take a Ferrari engine, so we could find ourselves actually forced out of the sport".

So Dr Helmut Marko, the right hand man of Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz, said the more likely situation is that Red Bull will keep control of Toro Rosso.

He said one option is to sell Toro Rosso to Renault, but the "more likely" scenario is that the junior Red Bull team simply takes on a "yellow livery to have a better marketing platform" for Renault.

"But of course the figures have to correspond," Marko told F1's official website on Thursday.

In that way, Red Bull and Toro Rosso would maintain their close links, and presumably continue to share an engine.

"Such a scenario would only take off if the close relationship between Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso stays intact, within the rules," said Marko.

"Red Bull Racing's headcount is much higher, the equipment of the team is more sophisticated — so without the know-how of Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso would be hurt in its competitiveness," he added.

03/27/15

Tost tells the media that a Renault buyout is in the works.

Toro Rosso team principal Franz Tost gave the strongest indication that he was prepared to initiate a deal with Renault that could see the French engine manufacturer buy out the Faenza based squad.

During the Friday press conference in Malaysia, Tost had no reservations about exploring the idea of a potential Renault buy-out of Toro Rosso, going so far to say it was the key ingredient his team needed to make a push further up the grid.

"I think this would be a fantastic opportunity for Toro Rosso to make the next step forward for the future" said Tost. "To be owned by a manufacturer would be the exact step forward that we need to establish ourselves in the top five [in the championship]."

RenaultSport Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul was circumspect about entertaining such a move in a public forum, instead listing the processes that would need to be undertaken from Renault’s top brass before the company could return to the sport as a works team – even posing an alternative option of leaving the sport altogether.

“Before we start doing a car I think we need to get the engine under control. That’s the priority for the time being. If we can do that we’d have to review the situation from a marketing perspective and a strategy perspective. To do more of Formula One or less of Formula One?"

Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner looked uneasy about the prospect of a potential Renault buyout, going so far as to hint that such a scenario cold force Red Bull out of the sport rather than exit on their own terms – as hinted by Dr Helmut Marko during the aftermath of the Melbourne Grand Prix.

“It sounds like Franz wants to sell his team to Cyril and we then need an engine", said Horner.

“We could find ourselves without an engine supplier if Renault chooses to withdraw from Formula One. Mercedes wouldn’t supplier Red Bull with an engine and it’s unlikely we’d be in a position to buy a Ferrari engine. So we could find ourselves actually forced out of the sport" he added. “As with any company, Red Bull reviews its return on investment and whether Formula One is delivering for Red Bull as a brand."

In signing off, Horner once again alluded to a scope of other requirements Red Bull required to remain in the sport. Whilst some might have some altruistic intent, engine equalization was most certainly bubbling beneath the surface of conversation.

“Red Bull want to compete in Formula One and we want to try and address some of the issues that are currently plaguing the sport that we don’t seem to be able to find any traction with" stated Horner. richland f1

03/20/15

Helmut Marko ready to pull Red Bull completely out of F1

(GMM) Toro Rosso's cars could turn yellow, Red Bull official Dr Helmut Marko has admitted.

As he criticizes engine partner Renault for its retrograde step in 2015, Marko has also confirmed that talks with the French marque about stepping up its involvement in the sister team Toro Rosso are taking place.

"If Renault believes it must represent itself differently for marketing reasons, then they are talking about either buying a team or having two cars in yellow," the Austrian told Speed Week.

Marko said similar talks have also taken place between Renault and Sauber, Force India and Lotus.

As for the Toro Rosso talks, he said owner Red Bull is open to Renault's ideas.

"If it improves performance and facilitates cooperation, then yes," said Marko.

"If Renault is happy with such a solution, then we are happy to talk to them. It is not just about the possibility of a sale, there is also the option to just give them (Renault) two cars in yellow."

There are also rumors Red Bull could be thinking of selling its premier team to Audi, having threatened in Australia to quit F1 in protest of the engine rules.

However, insiders have pointed out that Red Bull is contractually bound to F1 through 2020.

Marko, denying there are "any talks" with Audi, insisted: "BMW and Toyota also had long-term contracts."

03/15/15

Toro Rosso could soon be the 'works' Renault team

(GMM) Talks are underway between Red Bull and Renault, regarding the sale of the Toro Rosso team.

In the Melbourne paddock, high tension between officials of the energy drink company and its French partner is obvious.

A divorce could be nigh.

So according to Austria's Salzburger Nachrichten, Renault has kicked off talks with Red Bull about buying its second team, Toro Rosso, so it can be rebranded as the French manufacturer's works outfit.

A source confirmed: "Yes, discussions are ongoing between Red Bull and Renault."

Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko, the right hand man of Dietrich Mateschitz, told the APA news agency: "It is true that we are speaking with Renault about another form of cooperation regarding Toro Rosso.

"It may be that the cars go completely in yellow or there may even be a takeover," the Austrian added.

But Marko denied rumors Red Bull might also be looking to sell its premier team, Red Bull Racing, to the Volkswagen Group.

"There have been no talks," he insisted.

He does not hide, however, that Red Bull is dissatisfied not only with its current relationship with engine supplier Renault, but with formula one in general.

"Formula one is in urgent need of renewal," said Marko. "The sport must be the coolest, strongest and fastest it can be.

"If the relation between the cost and what we get out of it is wrong for Red Bull, we would not go on forever."

03/06/15 (GMM) Renault is now openly contemplating a return to full works status in formula one.

After running a works team until 2010, the French carmaker remained on the grid only as a supplier, helping Red Bull to win multiple titles.

But officials are now admitting a better marketing strategy for the future might be to once again buy into a team.

Alain Prost, an ambassador of Renault's F1 project, admitted: "A company like Renault is always analyzing what is the best strategy, especially when you're considering a return of investment on something like formula one.

"But I cannot answer whether the time is right or not," the four time world champion, referring to the rumors Renault is thinking about buying a team, told the Spanish daily Marca.

Indeed, Renault's F1 chief Cyril Abiteboul insists there have been no decisions made about a change of strategy for the marque.

"We are pleased to be engine supplier," he told RMC Sport. "Our priority is to make Red Bull world champion again."

However, Red Bull appears unhappy with the direction of Renault's turbo V6 project while the carmaker itself is concerned the energy drink maker attracts the majority of the marketing visibility.

"Taking over a team is not excluded," Abiteboul admitted, "but it's not decided either.

"This must be a part of a long term strategy," he added. "We must think about the sporting strategy that works best for Renault.

"We will be attentive to everything, including the development of the sport and its finances," said Abiteboul.

02/28/15

Lotus on Renault shortlist to buy back F1 team

The latest whisper is that Renault is pushing ahead with a project to buy an existing F1, in order to get a better return on its investment in F1. Since the French manufacturer gave away its F1 team in 2009 and fled the sport, red-faced after being caught with its trousers around its ankles over the race-fixing disgrace the previous year, the Company has not enjoyed much publicity, despite its successful engines. The success has been sucked up by Red Bull and Renault’s sister brand Infiniti and Renault barely gets a mention when a Red Bull wins a race.

This makes no sense at all. There was a plan a year or so ago to sell part of Renault Sport F1 to Nissan and share the engines and the technology but that was blocked, despite being very much in the style of Renault boss Carlos Ghosn's management. The obvious choice would be to buy Red Bull Racing but there is no sign that this is for sale, although a deal for three years of free publicity for The Austrian firm might convince Dietrich Mateschitz to go along with the plan.

In any case he has a second team in Scuderia Toro Rosso and could keep a presence that way, at a fraction of the cost. Lotus is an option but that would require some serious rebuilding, while Force India and Sauber are not really seen as serious options. From what I hear Ghosn has given the go ahead for Renault to go shopping but we will have to see what comes back in the bag. Joe Saward

02/21/15 (GMM) Renault is reportedly considering buying a team and going it alone as a full constructor once again.

Bruised by the 'crash-gate' affair, the French carmaker sold its works Enstone team to Gerard Lopez in 2010, who renamed it Lotus.

But according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, Renault is now considering buying it back.

Correspondent Michael Schmidt said Renault is unhappy with its current situation: spending a lot of money as Red Bull's works supplier, only to be dwarfed from a marketing perspective by the energy drinks company.

Not only that, Red Bull has been highly critical of its partner, and in the last months been making its own moves to improve the turbo V6 engine, including bringing in the former Mercedes guru Mario Illien.

Schmidt said Renault is considering internally whether running a full works team again, as it did when Fernando Alonso won the 2005 and 2006 titles, might now be the better strategy.

"On Renault's short-list are Lotus, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso," he revealed, adding that Bob Bell, formerly a leading Renault figure who recently departed Mercedes, might be involved.

Auto Motor und Sport said Toro Rosso, Red Bull's second team, could be the frontrunner, as it is the only team on the list with no debt.

An added bonus is that, alongside Red Bull, the Faenza outfit is the only currently Renault-powered team.

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