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Prodrive linked to Renault F1 buy-out

David Richards' independent Prodrive operation may have been overlooked for a spot on the 2010 grand prix grid by F1 governing body the FIA - but might it now find a way in through the back door instead via Renault...?
Another name has entered the frame as a potential buyer for Renault's British F1 operation should the French manufacturer elect to go ahead and pull the plug on its top flight participation between now and the end of the year – Prodrive, which insists moreover that it is completely ready to roll.

Yesterday it was claimed that pan-European management organisation Gravity could be interested in purchasing the Oxfordshire-based outfit – potentially via venture capital firm Mangrove [see separate story – click here] – and now it has been reported by French sports newspaper L'Équipe that David Richards' independent engineering concern Prodrive might also be in the running.

The deal would involve the chassis side of the team being sold off – with Renault continuing to supply engines to both Prodrive and Red Bull Racing for at least the next two years – the relocation of the entire Prodrive operation from Banbury to Enstone and the branding of a minor car manufacturer new to F1...possibly, it has been mooted, Aston Martin

The report has been given added credence due to the fact that its author, French journalist Anne Giuntini, is married to Denis Chevrier, the head of Renault F1's engine department until the beginning of this year – and with the car maker's president Carlos Ghosn having delayed a final decision on the marque's commitment to the sport and openly questioned whether F1 will 'be very important for anybody if it doesn't answer some of the concerns that surround [it]', the writing would appear to be on the wall.

“We will make an announcement the day we have something interesting to announce,” a Prodrive spokesperson told L'Équipe. “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 speculation makes sense for a number of reasons. The well-respected Richards has previous experience of guiding an F1 team and guiding it in impressive fashion, from his stints at Benetton in 1998 and BAR-Honda from 2002 to 2004; the former World Rally Championship (WRC)-winning co-driver knows the Enstone factory well and he was linked with replacing Flavio Briatore in the wake of the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal earlier this year; 2005 and 2006 aside, Renault has traditionally achieved its most consistent success at the highest level as an engine-supplier rather than as a team – engine and chassis-builder combined – in its own right; and Prodrive has been on the fringes of F1 promotion for a number of years, being passed over by governing body the FIA when the new entrants were announced for 2010 for reasons that remain – publicly at least – not altogether clear.

One person who may be somewhat less thrilled should Prodrive step in, however, would be 1997 F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve – a man eager to return to the field and linked with the Gravity rumours, but one who fell out with Richards at BAR-Honda in 2003 and was replaced before the season was out by Takuma Sato.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
15.07.2006 Magny Cours, France, David Richards (GBR), Owner of Prodrive and David Lapworth (GBR) of Prodrive - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 11, French Grand Prix, Saturday
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren Mercedes MP4-29 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Mechanics Red Bull work on the car of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10 and Helmut Marko (AUT), Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Advisor
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Mechanics Red Bull work on the car of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Press conference, Monisha Kaltenborn (AUT), CEO and Team Principal, Sauber F1 Team, Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Claire Williams (GBR) Williams Deputy Team Principal.
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Mechanics Red Bull work on the car of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB10
19.09.2014- Free Practice 2, Andrea Stella (ITA) Ferrari race Engineer and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T

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Dice - Unregistered

December 03, 2009 4:40 PM

Actually Jason, Dave & Prodrive did alot more than just talk ... ... they submitted a credible entry. The fact that the FIA chose to award entries to other less qualified teams is questionable. In fact Prodrive would have already been in F1, were it not for Williams (obviously a heavily MadMax influenced team) killing the customer car deal that would have seen them enter McLaren built & Mercedes powered cars. Dave is no fool, as can be seen from the success of Subaru, AMR & the Ferrari F550's. He know's what is sustainable / viable, & he knows what isnt. He isnt sentimental about being in F1 at all costs.

Roger Wilson - Unregistered

December 03, 2009 3:43 PM

Obviously Jason you have never met the man or been in his company in the workplace - I have. A better man in this diaster of a F1 world at the moment, one could not find. As for all this being "hot air" I somehow dont think so. They have survived the Subaru saga and the Aston projects have been successful and of course there is the much rumoured Mini WRC project. Vasbyt as we say here in SA



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