Renault F1 president Patrick Faure has predicted that it is likely that two or three smaller backers will replace title sponsor Mild Seven, when the cigarette brand leaves them at the end of this year.

Renault/Benetton have been backed by Japan Tobacco for a number of years and this season marks their 13th consecutive year together, making it the longest consecutive title sponsorship among today's F1 team sponsors.

"The departure of cigarettes in 2007 is not easy to replace," Faure told Reuters following launch of their new car Tuesday.

"They were really paying a good part of the budget. I don't see easily one sponsor replacing them. But I think we can find two or three smaller sponsors who can share the kind of space they have on the car.

"Basically, it's going to be very difficult to replace Mild Seven, but it's not impossible if we can show good results again this year and accept having two or three sponsors replacing one."

F1, which has traditionally relied on tobacco sponsorship, is now starting to embrace new brands. McLaren ended their deal with West last year, while Honda will also drop Lucky Strike branding at the end of this season. The exception is Ferrari, who have actually opted to renew their deal with Philip Morris - Marlboro - until 2011.