In this series, I will look at the ownership and funding of the teams in F1 and maybe uncover a dark secret or two.
Part 6: Renault
Renault has undergone several changes internally through 2019 after former CEO Carlos Ghosn was arrested in Japan last December over alleged financial misconduct. He subsequently fled Japan to Lebanon allegedly hidden in a double bass music case aided ex-special forces employed by an American private security contractor.
Renault’s chief financial officer, Clotilde Delbos, has been serving as interim CEO since the exit of Thierry Bollore, who was removed as CEO after a boardroom coup. The new CEO Luca de Meo is formally taking control in July.
Pre Covid-19 Delbos had been tasked to evaluate Renault’s future in Formula 1 as part of a “deep” review into the wider company’s strategy moving forward which may result in Renault’s withdrawal from F1.
Renault excuse the pun has a track record here as back in 2010, Renault sold a majority stake in the team to Genii Capital, a Luxembourg based investment company. However, Renault still retained a 25% share in the team and continued as an engine supplier.
Post Covid-19 it is hard to imagine Renault staying in F1 given the parent company’s many challenges financially and structurally.
Renault’s debt was downgraded to “junk” status two weeks ago following poor results last year when the group’s profits were almost wiped out. There is also the relatively poor performance on the track which does not bode well for further involvement.
To add to the misery Renault's engine supply business is in trouble after the loss of first the Red Bull and AlphaTauri teams and the recent announcement of McLaren switching to Mercedes from 2021 onwards.
So, is this end for Renault?
Well, the solution could rest with one Alain Prost who apart from being a legend in France is also a non-executive director of Renault Sport.
Prost could persuade the French billionaire Bernard Jean Étienne Arnault to join the F1 grid.
Arnault is the chairman and chief executive of LVMH Moët Hennessy the world's largest luxury-goods company. Some of LVMH’s brands would be a perfect fit, Tag Heuer Watches, Princess Yachts, and Moet & Chandon to name a few.
Could Arnault afford to become involved given the current crisis?
Well, he was briefly the richest man in the world in December of 2019. Also, he has the essential F1 billionaire credentials with yes, a 333 ft super-yacht called Symphony.
Come on Alain make that call.
Garry Sloan is the author of “In the pit lane - F1 exposed” details at inthepitlane.com
Copyright ©2020 Garry Sloan
The opinions expressed are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of F1-Fansite.com, staff or partners.
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