Cyril Abiteboul, Renault, 2020

Abiteboul denies latest rumours Renault could quit F1

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In the round-up: Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul has responded to fresh speculation Renault could pull its team out of Formula 1 after French finance minister Bruno Le Maire confirmed he is considering loaning €5 billion (£4.48bn) to the car maker.

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Comment of the day

@Mrfill has concerns Britain isn’t controlling the pandemic successfully enough for its F1 race to go ahead.

In the UK they are still detecting 3,000-plus new cases a day and it is the media’s thirst for the ‘new thing’ (happy Covid story) that means this detail is getting buried under pages of reasons why the football, tennis and F1 should be able to start for the ‘good of the people’ (nothing to do with huge sums of money).

The government has now confirmed (about seven weeks late) that 14 day quarantine will apply but, as usual, without a lot of clarity. Truck drivers may be exempt and other exemptions will be given, probably on a ‘who can pay more’ basis.

However, with the relaxation of the lockdown, new cases are likely to increase in a week or two and, if it can be managed well (not a well documented feature of the current administration) we should see progress with more places opening up and quarantine where necessary. What is more likely though is that the figures spike, we get a lot of dithering and finger pointing prevails, rules get changed in a mad panic, a new dismal three-word slogan will appear and all the well thought out plans go down the toilet. The next two weeks is the telling time. Fingers crossed…
@Mrfill

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 36 comments on “Abiteboul denies latest rumours Renault could quit F1”

    1. I wonder if that picture of Cyril was taken after he learnt that Ricciardo was leaving for McLaren?

      1. Its a pretty rough picture isnt it.

        1. I had enough of those moments unfortunately lol

          1. Typo: *he had, not I:D

      2. Cyril’s job seems to entail catastrohic mismanagement and impeding failure. Maybe he has found another scapegoat, another german.

        1. What do you mean?

      3. @mobiusclean No, it isn’t. It’s from pre-season testing, LOL.

      4. RocketTankski
        24th May 2020, 14:15

        “Spare a coupla million for a cuppa tea?”
        Looks like the poor guy’s been sleeping in his car? And that can’t be comfortable.

      5. Ha, that fits perfectly with my thoughts at seeing how scruffy he looked there @mobiusclean! Well said.

    2. Surely worth a caption quiz!!! “I should’ve kept my Gallic mouth shut rather than threaten Daniel with bringing in some new blood”.

      1. “First a hangover since I lost Daniel and now a hangover after a Jack Daniels.”

        1. I doubt Abiteboul is part of the conversation within Renault. He will be informed just a few days ahead of the public announcement.

    3. Given the disaster that has been Renault both as a PU manufacturer and a team, and the fact that he’s presided over much of it, I just can’t feel sorry for Cyril.

      If they do stick around, which I suspect will be doubtful, they really need to replace Cyril.

      1. Disaster? Or triumph? It seems like Renault have done exactly what they intended to do, and found a sweet spot where F1 costs them very little while providing most of the marketing advantages.

        Renault’s budget has been around £150m a year, with £75m from F1 TV rights, and £25-50m from other sponsors. It looks like Renault were paying between 1/6th and 1/3rd of the total cost, and receiving 100% of the benefits. And that’s before the budget cap takes effect.

        I can see no indication that Renault haven’t made much the same calculations and decided that the cost:benefit ratio is so much better like this that it’s not worth trying to win.

        1. Well given that their performance has done absolutely nothing for their brand other than damage it, it’s probably $150 mill wasted completely.

          Even before Coronavirus tipped the business world on its head, they’d taken a big hit in sales so I’d say that their F1 “investment” is all cost with no benefit.

        2. Dave, wasn’t there a report last year indicating that the amount of money that Renault was receiving from their advertisers had declined by about $48 million in 2019?

          As DB-C90 notes, there are questions over whether the team has been entirely successful in promoting Renault. Whilst, on the one hand, it does help create an image of sportiness around the company, it does have the problem that the indifferent results haven’t necessarily helped them – furthermore, Abiteboul’s image in the press is mixed or on the negative side, which arguably damages the brand.

          Furthermore, the company has already announced a €2 billion cost cutting plan to kick in over the next three years – even before the current outbreak, Renault was already in financial trouble as, back in February, they announced a €141 million loss for Q4 2019.

          Those cost cuts reportedly include axing the Alpine brand, with Renault rumoured to be looking at shutting down that factory as part of the wider factory closures mentioned in the article that is linked above. If they are potentially axing their premium sportscar marque, that does slightly weaken the case for staying on in F1 given that marketing that division was part of Renault’s aim when they became a works team.

          The French government, to whom Renault have applied, seem to be tying the financial loans to developing and producing electric cars too – F1 would be a bit more of an awkward promotional fit in that sense. I can see why there are those who would question if Renault is necessarily getting a great return for their outlay and why some might feel that there is a case for Renault ditching their team.

          1. Renault were reported to have a downturn in sponsorship revenue, but then the budget cap is also widely reported. We’re talking about whether they’re an ongoing prospect for Renault, so that is a big factor.

            Obviously being a mid-table F1 team isn’t quite as valuable for marketing purposes as winning – but it comes pretty close, because almost all car buyers know nothing about F1, and all F1 cars look the same to them. Renault aren’t trying to be Mercedes, let alone Ferrari. It isn’t clear to me that they’d benefit at all from winning championships at higher cost.

            To me, it’s perfectly plausible that Renault are currently achieving about as much for their money as they want.

            Politics of government loans are outside the remit of my comment :)

            1. @Dave I can see the point that you’re trying to make, but to me it doesn’t make sense from a brand perspective.

              A brand does not invest large sums in a high end to be “average” there are far cheaper ways to portray yourself as average.

              However the biggest killer to your argument has been that Renault has not only been very average against other PU manufacturers, they’ve not even been able to make their product reliable and its things like that that people do notice. Slow AND unreliable is not a good look and does not play well to the market. Maintaining a small (by comparison spend) might have worked if they’d had something positive to offer but it’s been pretty much an embarrassment. I’d be surprised if the board doesn’t take some action.

            2. @dbradock

              Being in F1 at all is enough for marketing purposes.

              Only F1 fans know what Renault’s performances have been like, and we’re not a big enough group to matter. You’re comparing Renault to Mercedes and Ferrari, but no-one buying a car does. They’ll compare them to Peugeot et al, who aren’t in F1 at all.

              Have a look on Google at the kind of marketing materials people produce to exploit involvement in F1. For most products, being associated with F1 is more than enough. There are pictures of cars, not lists of race results.

              Why else do even backmarkers find sponsors?

            3. Damn, no edit button. One more thing to note: it appears Renault have invested pretty small sums by F1 standards, and by the standard of their overall marketing budget.

    4. COTD is probably on the money – I also have no confidence in this government – but I remain tentatively optimistic that things are on a better path in terms of us not experiencing a second spike. This is because lockdown adherence has been openly flouted by huge numbers of people (at least here in London) and I would have expected the case numbers to have begun to increase again already, when they have actually remained constant, if not actually low. Furthermore, the lockdown itself was not particularly strict in the first place – schools being closed, a reduction in commuting by public transport, and pubs/public gatherings being shut down are the 3 things the UK actually did properly. The quarantine is an example of where other countries have been far stricter.

      I guess it’s right to say the next couple of weeks are critical, but it feels like that statement has applied for months now!

      1. Its unfair to bring politics into it and wrong to compare the UK with other countries!

        *satire :)

      2. I’m less worried about the Silverstone GP and more about how the Britain-based teams are gonna travel to other races while there is a quarentine requirement.

    5. Everyone in F1 just needs to take their kids (or maybe borrow someone’s if they don’t have their own) and drive themselves to/from the race weekends, via their parents. Apparently you can do that and it immediately exempts you from all the government’s coronavirus rules…

      1. Brilliant, JC.

        Or they could claim the entire team are truck drivers.

        1. Well, Prost once complained his Ferrari felt like a truck to drive (and got fired for it) …

      2. Good one, JC

    6. Well, Cyril doesn’t actually deny it, he just says he can. Lance Stroll would tell you he can win races.

    7. It is reported that Renault is in discussion with Bottas, Vettel and Alonso.
      But I wouldn’t be surprised if they were in discussions with Vasseur as well.

      1. @coldfly An Alonso – Ocon pairing would certainly bring a welcome entertainment in the midfield. Also, I personally don’t ditch Renault’s chances to improve just yet. Post-2021 rules and post-covid world could really bring everyone closer.

    8. I see much criticism and lack of faith in our government yet the decision to enforce this “lowdown” based on proven nonsense from Imperial College and the discredited N.Ferguson is accepted unchallenged.
      Now an attempt to stage some form of British GP is being stalled by the same incompetent administration.
      Shame on them.

    9. Abiteboul looks like he’s been listening to “baby come back” on loop

      1. Good call. I don’t know whether you’ve seen it, but there was an Australian (and maybe NZ) advert for the Hilux that used that as the soundtrack, and his thousand-yard stare is a dead ringer for the guy in the ad.

    10. How can Renault afford to stay in F1? They had problems since Ghosn was arrested in Japan, but the global crisis sent Renault into seeking help from the French government.

      The F1 team was pretty hard to account for even when the company was doing well, but now it’s obvious that they have no clue what they are doing in F1:
      – no customer team to provide engines for;
      – no improvement for the works team;
      – the star driver left for a midfield team.

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