A driving force behind Renault‘s F1 programme, earlier this week CEO Carlos Ghosn was forced to stand down following his arrest in Japan for “financial irregularities”.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi today, team boss Cyril Abiteboul was adamant that Ghosn’s departure will not affect the F1 programme.
“It’s fair to say that, indeed, Carlos Ghosn was instrumental in the decision to return in late 2015,” said the Frenchman, “but obviously it’s not just one man’s decision. It was debated at length in executive committee, at board level, and that was the decision of the company.
“We have been racing in Formula 1 since more than 40 years,” he continued. “We are part-way on the journey of a long-term plan, six years. Six years to build the team, six years to hopefully challenge these guys. That’s where the focus is at the minute.
“There is a clear continuity of all the operations with Thierry Bollore,” he said of Ghosn’s replacement, “who is no stranger to Formula 1, as he has been a director of the board of the team since 2016, so obviously this is where we need to focus and support Renault in that overall continuity.
“We have no information that there will be any impact. We don’t see any reason why there would be more impact on this programme than on anything else.
“For the time being: continuity, focus on what we have to do, which is complete the championship in the best possible way this weekend and then focus on the second phase of our plan in Formula 1, and this is the success that will matter, the success or lack of success, and this is where I need to deliver.”
Minded however of the impact ‘corporate scandals’ have had on the likes of Volkswagen (VAG), who subsequently quit the WEC and rallying in the aftermath of the emission scandal, and that therefore his claim was somewhat optimistic, Abiteboul said: “In fairness, I don’t think I was willing to sound optimistic because it’s a substantial piece of development for the whole group.
“I think my message is simply that there is a continuity plan for all the operations of the Renault Group as well as Nissan and Mitsubishi,” he continued. “Formula One is part of this operation. It’s an object and an activity which is well known, very visible and receiving lots of exposure with clear expectations of return on investment and contribution to the business.
“I think that the reason why we joined Formula One in the way that we joined Formula One back in late 2015 are still here today: for exposure, for technology development. There is no reason why those factors are suddenly going away in case of any development, for which I don’t want to speculate at this point in time.
“So if Formula 1 is still a good value proposition in the past, it has no reason not to be also in the future.
“I’m just saying that it will, in my opinion, be in our hands and this is where I will be focusing my efforts rather than in speculation. It’s in our hands to deliver the best possible result also for the best given cost to the company that will then continue to monitor this activity as an any other activity.
“I have absolutely no indication that, for instance, Thierry Bollore is not keen on Formula 1. Again, he’s a director of our company, has very good knowledge of what we are doing, so optimism, no scepticism, just focusing on facts and what we need to deliver.”