Renault: Costs too highposted in F102 | 09 | 2010

    IN A FRANK interview, Renault chairman Gerard Lopez has admitted Formula 1 is proving more expensive than he had anticipated. Lopez is the Luxembourg-based businessman whose Genii Capital company brought a majority shareholding in Renault before the start of this season.

    Now, amid speculation that he could sell back some of the team to its parent company, he says his involvement in F1 has hit all its targets so far ... apart from the amount of investment he has had to make.

    "We committed, in terms of investment, to a different plan to the one that was foreseen initially"

    "On the commercial side we are doing okay," Lopez explained, "but we have committed to a higher investment plan than the one initially foreseen. It is probably not far off what the biggest teams do, because we kept 500 people, and hired people.

    "So commercially speaking we are probably within what we wanted to do. But, in terms of spend, we are probably above. But that was our choice. I would say green lights everywhere except we didn't plan on increasing the spend."

    Earlier this season, of course, the team suffered cash flow issues which prompted Lopez to appeal to Bernie Ecclestone for an advance of its share of the television rights cash. The money wasn't forthcoming and rumours about the longterm financial viability of the team began to grow. Those rumours were swiftly denied by Renault and since then it has announced sponsorship deals with banking groups EFG International and SNORAS for the remainder of the 2010 campaign.

    "We know the car was born slow"

    Lopez also admitted, certainly in terms of its on-track performance and following Robert Kubica's podium finish at Spa, it had hit its goals.

    "As far as we are concerned, we are essentially where we wanted to be," he continued. "We know the car was born slow, and we committed in terms of investment to a different plan to the one that was foreseen initially. We committed to having a development for pretty much every race, with big developments like the blown floor and the F-duct.

    "Actually, I think we are the only team that developed two F-ducts – we developed one we didn't use and scrapped that one and we developed this one. I think that is what we wanted to do. Now that we have achieved a couple of podiums we're hoping to have a victory; that would be good but possibly a little bit optimistic for this season. We are within what we expected." Lopez said he was also excited about the plans for the 2011 car.

    "I think we are quite excited about next year's car, it is always difficult on paper and computer – but as a benchmark of the current car given new regulations it seems a well born car."

    Craig James

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