Renault has issued a statement to deny that it has broken away from its fellow manufacturers in Formula 1 by agreeing to yield to the FIA's push for a single engine-supplier to be introduced from 2010 – a situation that would make it five-four in favour of the contentious proposal.
In a time of growing economic crisis worldwide – and with Honda's withdrawal from the top flight last Friday having sent shockwaves through the grand prix paddock – FIA President Max Mosley is pressing ahead with more determination than ever in his initiative to see Cosworth provide all teams with identical engines [see separate story – click here
In a climate in which teams are finding themselves faced with having to take drastic steps in order not just to save money but even simply to survive, the FIA and FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) appear set for a face-off during their meeting in Monaco this week.
Whilst private, customer-supplied outfits Williams, Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India are all understood to have expressed themselves open to the low-cost Cosworth option, the sport's car makers Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Renault and Toyota have insisted they will never
race with a unified powerplant as it would remove their very raison d'être
for competing. That is, it is claimed, until now.
'Even Renault wants to adhere to the FIA's plan,' claimed Italian newspaper La Stampa
, 'in particular Option B (that of building the engine themselves according to specifications imposed by Cosworth). Thus Max Mosley has succeeded in scoring the first point in this match which will conclude on Friday in Paris in a World Motor Sport Council meeting.'
The newspaper claims that should Renault indeed depart from its fellow manufacturers over the issue, it would destroy the 'harmony between the teams to reach an agreement and maintain the essence of F1, which needs to remain a technological and sporting competition' – and would enable Mosley to successfully divide and conquer the teams in his efforts to get the proposal agreed.
'Ferrari and co are the actors,' the 'paper added. 'Without them the spectacle would disappear – or go elsewhere.'
former double world champion driver Fernando Alonso also claimed last week that a standardised engine 'would be the end of Formula 1 as we know it' and 'the last straw' for him [see separate story – click here
“Competition is the key word,” the Spaniard had stressed. “If all the engines were equal, I would consider retiring.”
In contrast to the FIA's suggestion, FOTA has put forward its own method which it argues would cut costs whilst retaining F1's spectacle, by dint of using the same engine for four races – rather than three as the governing body has proposed – shortening grands prix by 50 kilometres and reducing annual testing from 30,000km to just 10,000km by 2010.
Following that, in 2011 FOTA's plan is to introduce a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine specification, which the organisation claims will cost €1.5 million less than that which Cosworth would provide.
Renault, however, has since released a statement to deny that it has differed from the sport's other manufacturers on the matter.
'Following speculation that appeared this morning in the Italian press, the ING Renault F1 Team would like to state that the positions of the team and Renault are in complete accordance to those of FOTA,' the statement read. 'We would like to point out that neither Mr Briatore nor Renault have spoken to the press regarding this matter before this official press release.'
Back in 2002, then Minardi boss Paul Stoddart had accused F1's manufacturers of 'pushing all the small teams out'.