Renault F1 stakeholder Gerard Lopez insists that he expects the French marque and his Genii Capital operation to be involved in Formula One for some time to come, silencing rumours that suggest the opposite.
The first Renault
F1 challenger since the departure of 'old guard' Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds and arrival of 'white knight' Genii appeared in public on Sunday and has since run at Valencia's Circuit Ricardo Tormo in the hands of Robert Kubica, ending speculation that the regie
may join Honda, BMW
in heading for the category's exit door. Luxembourg-based Genii bought a majority stake in Renault
shortly before Christmas, enabling the French company to justify its outlay on F1 and avoid having to sell its entry.
The decision to take on significant investment did little to quell speculation that Renault
was looking for a way out, but Lopez insists that reality is far removed from rumour.
"I think Renault
has chosen Genii and Genii has chosen Renault
because there is long-term commitment there," he told ITV-F1
at the launch, "I think that is one of the questions that a lot of people have - why this was a way out for Renault. It certainly isn't.
"The commitment of Renault, the sponsors, partners and Genii is not one of just participating in F1, and that kind of takes away what people have been talking about. At Enstone, we have a workforce of about 480 people [and] that makes this team second, I think, in terms of size. Had Renault
wanted to just survive in F1, I can assure you there is a much cheaper way of doing that than keeping almost 500 people in the team.
"I think the commitment to keep those people is also a commitment for performance. It obviously will take time to put together the complete package that is the final package that we would like to have in every sense. From a sponsor perspective and a sporting perspective, I think we were are well on our way."
Lopez also denied that Genii, an investment capital company that has its own sports management off-shoot, would seek either to take over the entry in its own right or sell out for a profit in the near future.
"There is actually no
plan," he insisted, "In ten years, if we are still in F1 and Renault
is still in partnership [with us], then we would be very happy because that would mean we have probably done exactly what we wanted to do. Certainly, at this stage, there's no expectation from us that Renault
would leave or that we would do something for them to leave and buy them out.
"Both parties insisted on making [a long-term commitment] because both parties think there is an advantage in this way forward. So there is no multi-year plan that has an ending to it. There's a multi-year plan that has a performance edge to it but, other than that, it will be business as usual this year, next year and the year after.