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Renault will stay in Formula 1 despite selling its team

Fernando Alonso in a Renault at the Brazilian Grand Prix
Renault has come up with a new way of running a manufacturer F1 team

By Andrew Benson

Renault will race on in Formula 1 next year following a deal to secure the team's future, as BBC Sport exclusively predicted last week.

The company had considered quitting F1, but the team will continue under new owners with the French car company retaining a minority 25% shareholding.

Luxembourg-based investment firm Genii Capital will own the rest and share the running of the team with Renault.

Lead driver Robert Kubica is not yet certain to stay following the deal.

Renault has signed the highly rated Pole to replace double world champion Fernando Alonso, who has moved to Ferrari, but Kubica's manager Daniele Morelli told BBC Sport it was "not automatic" he would be driving for the team under the new arrangement .

The design team under technical director Bob Bell will remain the same.

But Bell, who was acting team principal for the final four races of the season following the departure of Flavio Briatore in the wake of the Singapore race-fixing scandal, will be replaced by a new team boss.

Renault said it had reached an agreement for a "proposed sale of a large stake of the Renault F1 team to Genii" and that they would operate the team jointly.

This confirms Renault's commitment and trust in the sport's governing bodies to improve the green credentials of F1

Bernard Rey
Renault F1 president

BBC Sport understands Genii, run by businessmen Eric Lux and Gerard Lopez, will own 75% of Renault's chassis design and construction base in Enstone in Oxfordshire.

Renault will retain total control over its engine manufacturing base in Viry-Chatillon on the outskirts of Paris.

Renault also said it would continue to supply engines to Red Bull in 2010.

Genii beat David Richards - the boss of the British motor racing engineering firm Prodrive and former team principal of Benetton and BAR in F1 - to a deal with Renault.

It is understood that Renault believed the Genii deal, which is a new arrangement for a road-car manufacturer in F1, better suited its future aims - which remain unclear.

The company felt it was not able to quit F1 having last summer signed legally binding documents committing it to the sport until 2012.

At a time of difficult global economic conditions for car companies, Renault did not want to spend the money that would be required either to extricate itself from its F1 commitments or to continue running and funding the team itself.

Flavio Briatore
There will be a new team principal to replace Briatore

Renault described its move as "a new phase for its F1 programme, consistent with F1's drive for cost efficiencies".

Renault F1 team president Bernard Rey said: "I am sure that Genii Capital's enthusiasm and business expertise will create a new dynamic for the team, the staff and our partners.

"Altogether, we look forward to competing again at the highest level in F1. This announcement also confirms Renault's commitment and trust in the sport's governing bodies to improve the green credentials of F1."

Genii chief executive officer Eric Lux said his "long-term vision aims to return Renault to the forefront of F1".

A statement added that Genii would "look for synergies between companies in its investment portfolio and Renault F1".

The Renault F1 team's future had been in doubt since the company held an emergency board meeting in early November to discuss whether to continue in F1.

Renault

F1 team review - Renault

The issue was discussed at further meetings of Renault bosses in the last fortnight, with a final decision to go with Genii understood to have been taken at an executive board meeting last Wednesday.

Renault president Carlos Ghosn signed the documents that finalised the Lopez deal in Japan on Tuesday, it is understood.

Renault's decision to examine its participation in F1 came after the team's worst season since it returned to the sport as a constructor in 2002.

They finished eighth out of 10 teams in the world championship, with their best result Alonso's third place in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Far worse for Renault's reputation, though, was the Singapore race-fixing scandal.

Renault were handed a ban from F1, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of asking Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to aid Alonso's chances of winning.

Team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds were banned from motorsport for their part in the conspiracy - Briatore for life and Symonds for five years.

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes in Singapore

Analysis: Renault race-fixing controversy

Both are contesting their bans in the French courts, with a verdict due in the new year.

Piquet was not punished by governing body the FIA after agreeing to blow the whistle on the affair, even though Symonds gave evidence that the plan was the Brazilian's idea.

Two of the team's major sponsors, the Dutch bank ING and the Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena, ended their relationship with the team with immediate effect over the affair.

Renault's uncertainty over its future in F1 came at the end of a year that has seen three of the major road-car manufacturers end their involvement in the sport.

Honda quit in December last year, but helped secure a management buy-out of its team, which raced as Brawn GP in 2009 and won the drivers' and constructors' world championships.

BMW announced in July its decision to quit F1 at the end of the season, and Toyota made public its withdrawal a few days after the final race in early November.

Despite that, now Renault has officially confirmed the future of its team, the F1 grid is set to have six more cars on it in 2010 than this year's 20.

606: DEBATE

BMW has sold its team back to their Swiss founder Peter Sauber, while four new teams have entered.

The Lotus name is returning with a new team set up by Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes.

The Virgin brand, which sponsored Brawn in 2009, has joined forces with the successful junior category race team Manor to form Virgin Grand Prix, which was launched in London on Tuesday.

They will be joined by Spain's Campos Meta 1 and American outfit US F1.



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see also
Kubica may not stay with Renault
16 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Red Bull hope over Renault engine
16 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Deal struck to keep Renault in F1
10 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Lopez confirms Renault interest
09 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Briatore attempts to overturn ban
24 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Renault coy on F1 exit decision
05 Nov 09 |  Formula 1


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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Times Online Kubica faces uncertainty over future - 2 hrs ago
Sky News Australia Renault to stay - 2 hrs ago
Motorsport.com Renault remains in Formula One with new investor - 9 hrs ago
CBS Sports Renault to sell 'large stake' in team, stay in F1 - 10 hrs ago
SLAM! Sports Renault says it will stay in Formula 1 - 10 hrs ago


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