Renault wants assurances over Force India sale

Mat Coch

Wednesday 1st August, 2018 - 9:39am

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Renault has not approved the sale of Force India

Renault is seeking assurances from Formula 1’s commercial rights holders that the sport is not moving towards a manufacturer run competition before approving the sale of Force India.

All other teams on the grid are required to approve the sale of a rival if it is to maintain its prize money entitlements.

In Force India’s case, those entitlements are thought to be worth as much as $200 million, and come with other political advantages courtesy of the team having finished fourth in the constructors’ championship for the last two seasons.

Those perks make the team more attractive for sale, rather than a new owner simply taking over the team’s 400 staff and assets.

Renault however is concerned that Force India could turn into a Mercedes ‘B’ team, in much the same way Haas and Sauber have for Ferrari.

It’s a model the French manufacturer, along with Williams and McLaren, are wary of, and is why the trio refused to sign an agreement between teams approving the sale of Force India in Hungary.

“That’s not the type of F1 we like,” Renault team boss Cyrtil Abiteboul told BBC Sport.

“We are a little bit afraid that such a construction would make it impossible for anyone who is not enjoying the benefit of a master team or slave team to be competitive at their own level.

“We start to see some glimpses of that today in certain aspects of the grid or the development of the chassis or engine.

“We need to make sure it does not become a necessity, otherwise our model does not work and our involvement can’t be sustainable.”

Abiteboul added that he was not against the sale, only that his priority was to protect both the sport and Force India’s staff.

“We will make sure that no job is under any threat, that is very certain, but we just want to understand the vision of the commercial rights holder in that respect.

“The only thing where we want to have a little bit of clarity is we understand that there are right now a number of incentives for large and smaller teams to get together and take advantage either of the current regulations or future regulations.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff shared Abiteboul’s concerns, stating that he too is not in favour of manufacturer supported ‘B-teams’.

“We don’t like the concept of B-teams in Formula 1,” he told BBC Sport.

“We’d rather not have this structure because it provides advantages to both teams, and competitive advantages, you could argue.

“We are not buying Force India and we would rather not have the concept of a B-team.

“I understand there are questions from Cyril and others over what is the future of F1 if big teams buy smaller teams, which I completely respect,” he added.

“I completely share those thoughts and I don’t think it is the right way forward.

“So we need to find a solution to how the small teams can benefit from shared infrastructure but at the same time not gain an advantage that is currently possible.”

Another potential fly in the ointment is a revelation courtesy of F1’s abandoned stock market float prospectus, which included a statement referring to the transfer of teams in the instance of a sale or financial problems.

In that document it stated that, should a team become insolvent, it would forgo its entitlement to prize money.

If it’s found that Force India is currently insolvent as a result of the administration process, the prize money it would otherwise be entitled to looks set to be redistributed among the other nine teams.

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