Flavio Briatore could maintain Renault's presence in Formula 1 even if the French manufacturer does follow through with its threat to walk away at the end of the 2009 campaign - by purchasing the team to run as his own.

In company with rivals Ferrari, Toyota and Red Bull, the R?gie has vowed to pull the plug on its participation in the absence of a satisfactory resolution to the ongoing budget cap stand-off between the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) and governing body the FIA - but some have surmised that against the backdrop of the global credit crunch and consequent slump in car sales, and with a chief executive in the shape of Carlos Ghosn not particularly passionate about the sport, it might well leave regardless.

It has been speculated that in such a scenario, Briatore could step in and buy the Enstone and Viry-based outfit, which has won just two races in the top flight in the last three years and is currently enduring another mediocre season in 2009.

What's more, title sponsor ING has already indicated that it will not be renewing its contract when the present deal expires, and the squad's talisman lead driver, double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, is widely expected to jump ship to Ferrari in either 2010 or 2011 at the latest.

That would likely create a free berth for reserve driver and GP2 Series pace-setter Romain Grosjean, whilst Renault could continue to supply customer engines as it does at the moment to Red Bull Racing.

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