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Renault announces return to Formula 1 in 2016

Practical Motoring logo Practical Motoring 04-12-2015 Robert Pepper

Renault will be back in Formula 1 for 2016, as a constructor.

Formula 1 is a sport that is as interesting to watch off track as on.  You may remember Red Bull managed to win four championships from 2010 to 2013 with Renault power, and all was rosy when they were winning. 

But then in 2014 and 2015 Mercedes rose to the fore, sweeping all before them and Red Bull became angry with Renault for not providing a suitably powerful engine.  Yes, the French powerplant was below par, but F1 is a sport that ebbs and flows, nobody remains at the top forever and solid teamwork gets long-term results not short-term dummy spitting.

So now Renault have decided to come back as a constructor in their own right, taking over the Lotus team,  responsible for the complete car and not just the engine for another. 

Carlos Ghosn, CEO, said: "Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win--even if it will take some time".

Renault expect to acquire the Lotus team shortly, and the principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015.

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Renault also said: "Formula 1 serves to promote awareness of the Renault brand and its image in all its markets across the world. Formula 1 is one of the sports that enjoys the most media coverage worldwide thanks to a following on five continents, particularly in emerging markets. It attracts 450 million television viewers annually and its scope for growth is enormous thanks to opportunities founded on new technologies, social networks, video games, etc. that have yet to be fully exploited."

That's a pointed barb at one Mr B Ecclestone's noted reluctance to embrace the 21st century and properly market the sport to younger people, women and the tech-savvy.  It's such a shame because F1 has a wonderful story to tell with hybrid powertrains and 1.L engines producing stupendous amounts of horsepower.  Indeed, it is likely that this new-tech focus was a reason Renault came back, and it has certainly been a factor for other manufacturers.  For quite a while the VW group was tipped to make a entrance to F1, but with dieselgate that would have been shelved, and indeed the group are scaling back their World Endurance Championship programme, especially after they won it with a Porsche co-driven by Mark Webber.

We can expect more information on Renault's F1 programme in January, but where this leaves Red Bull is not clear, maybe as a second-fiddle customer?  Who knows, but they brought it on themselves.

It will be good to see one of the sports most historic names back on the grid.

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