Renault to expand to eight cars in 2011

Renault is going to extend its engine supply in F1 next year, and according to the latest reports from France this could mean that there will be as many as eight Renault-engined cars on the grid. The rules state that major manufacturers (whatever that means) are not allowed to “directly or indirectly supply engines for more than three teams of two cars each – without the consent of the FIA”. At the moment Cosworth supplies four teams; Ferrari three, Renault two and Mercedes-Benz three. The Cosworth engines are not hugely popular with the users but that situation could be improved if the FIA allowed for some upgrades to give the company parity with its rivals. The success of Red Bull Racing means that Renault is a target for several teams and it is believed that Williams is already close to a deal with its former partner in the 1990s. Auto Hebdo magazine in France is reporting that a deal is nearly done, although Williams is saying nothing at the moment. There is also much talk about a deal with Lotus, which would revive a relationship that enjoyed success with Ayrton Senna in the 1980s. For that deal to go ahead Lotus would have to buy itself out of the current Cosworth deal, but the partners may be willing to do that as they understand that performance is the key to success in F1 and that money will come if the team can produce results.

Red Bull has been making noises about switching to Mercedes, but this is not something that it can control as we believe that part of the McLaren-Mercedes severance deal was a McLaren option to veto any new engine deals it does not want. Thus if there is to be a fourth Mercedes deal it is most likely to be with a small team, rather than a proven operation such as Red Bull or Williams. This would most likely be ART. The French team is part-owned (30%) by Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, the Crown Prince of Bahrain. He is not directly involved in the management of Mumtalakat, Bahrain’s investment holding company, which is part-owner of McLaren, but obviously there are strong links between the various parties involved. ART is bidding for the 13th F1 franchise with the suggestion being that it would utilise a Toyota-built chassis with a Mercedes engine. This would give the team time to invest in the necessary infrastructure in France.

18 thoughts on “Renault to expand to eight cars in 2011

  1. Hmm, Mercedes engine in Toyota chassis? Not exactly pleasant reading for those forced to build from scratch in 6-8 months and use a Cosworth is it?

    I dread the BBC’s misty-eyed nostalgia pieces if Lotus choose Renault (heaven help us if Bruno ever signs on too).

    What’s the point of Williams swapping 1 weak engine for another? Their chassis haven’t been too sharp recently, but lack of horsepower since 2007 seems to be a problem too.

    Seems like the engine musical chairs might have to be a substitute for the usual driver merry-go-round.

    I still think Epsilon Euskadi would be a good choice of 13th team.

  2. Why didn’t Williams and Renault reach a deal for 2010? These single transition years between engine supplies seem to be a feature of the history of Williams…

  3. Are the good times starting to roll? Williams-Renault, Lotus-Renault….phew! Those iconic chassis-engine tie-ups are back. If this really happens, will we see the return of Williams to the top? Lotus are already on the ascendancy. A Renault engine would be all Gascoyne needs to keep the Lotus floating in the F1 lake and finally moving up the pecking order and out of the “last teams” status.

    And ART would make it another new team. A Toyota chassis with Mercedes-Benz powerplant? Sounds potent!

  4. Another year, another engine for Williams, perhaps? I’m struggling to see how this fits. Sure the Renault unit is good, but for a team that’s traditionally engineering-led like Williams, I’m surprised they haven’t committed to Cosworth as the de-facto lead team. Cosworth know how to make engines, I’m positive they’ll come good before long.

  5. ART in a Toyota-Mercedes? I read something on another website that suggested a deal between ART and Sauber could be on the cards. Do you think that’s just idle speculation or might there be anything to it?

  6. There are all sorts of nuggets in this piece Joe!

    For a start, this old fart is becoming misty-eyed at the thought of a Renault-Williams. I would love to see Williams return to their glory days. Imagine a season like this where we already have Red Bull, McLaren and to an extent Ferrari mixing it at the front. Then add a couple of quick Williams into that mix…

    It also raises a couple of questions.

    Will the FIA allow some engine mods to Cosworth? If so, Renault are asking for the same thing. Or rather Christian Horner is asking for it for Red Bull.

    Also, your piece sort of implies ART are most likely to get the 13th place. Is this good insider knowledge? Epsilon are also making noises about it and no doubt Stefan Serbia is going to pop up soon. I suppose that leads to a personal question from me, but others may be interested too. Will you do an analysis piece of the serious bidders? I think there are a handful of worthy bids – it will be interesting to see where it goes.

  7. While the significance of a Williams-Renault returning to the grid gets my eyes moist I fear Williams lack of competativeness runs much deeper than simply engine.

    It has been “this year will be better” or “next race will see improvements” for many a year now 😦

  8. It is probably a question of KERS. Williams’ Kers would suit much better in a renault engine.

    There is also a focus in 2013 when the new engines will be imposed. These engines will start been developed in a near future and Williams would like to develop its Kers together with the new engine.

  9. Williams has been chopping and changing its engine supplier since its separation with BMW. It cannot be good for the design office to have to keep going back to square one.

    I cannot understand why Cosworth is having performance problems. It had the better part of two years to develop the engine. Was it a funding issue?

    Williams-Renault does have a ring to it though. I wonder if there is any truth in the rumours that Pat Symonds is to work as a consultant at Williams.

  10. Is there likely to be a bidding war for Sauber with Paris Mullins/Chad Hurley -vs- ART? I would think Peter Sauber has had his fingers burnt enough to contemplate another takeover.

    However, Montezemelo (what a windbag!) has said he wants an American team running a Ferrari; it wouldn’t be the first time Sauber have (allegedly) run a Ferrari chassis…

  11. Joe,

    If ART get the 13th slot, what kind of effect will that have on Felipe Massa and Nicolas Todt.

    Are team bosses allowed to manage drivers after Singapore Scandal???

    Thanks,

    Sami

  12. Too bad Renault doesn´t take an interest in a proven race winner like Bourdais and try to get him in an outfit they supply with engines. I would really like to see him back in F1. I wonder (and am personally convinced) if he (and Scott Speed) were also victims of the Red Bull-crap Vettel-favoring athmosphere at that time.

  13. Petrobras is testing products with Renault. They are about to decide to sponsor RedBull or return to Williams. Barrichello would help this!

  14. Rodrigo Ferreira,

    That’s a good point. Surely, the long-term future (in this case, not too long a term) would decide the choice of engine makers. KERS and the new 2013 engine rules are definitely the cornerstones of any new engine deal. I think Williams would finally give up on single year engine contracts and go ahead with a long term partner who is not only a mere engine supplier, but also one who possesses the technical prowess to guide the technical future of the team. Renault surely fits the bill.

  15. I don’t get why Cosworth doesn’t have a superior engine to begin with. Don’t they SPECIALIZE in engines? That’s what they do, right?

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