It’s no new headline that Renault have been evaluating a return as a full time invested team. Neither is it new that after dominating 2010-2013 they have endured 2 painful seasons, with Red Bull leading the charge against its once biggest ally. Unfortunately, rather than history or tradition, things have boiled down to one thing: Money.
“If they take over Lotus and do exactly what Mercedes and Red Bull did, that would be it, so yeah, sure.” -Bernie Ecclestone
At least the rules are clear, they either take over a team or kiss their cash goodbye while F1 waves them an Aloha. I’m not doubting Renault’s historic credentials, after all, they have been in F1 for several decades (since 1977 though not consecutively), giving us not only some real iconic cars, but have been given us some great engines and winning combinations. Lotus Renault in the John Player Special with Ayrton Senna at the wheel, Williams Renault with Nigel Mansell, Benetton [Renault] with Michael Schumacher, Renault F1 with Fernando Alonso. But the real issue is the Ecclestone handout. Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams already receive these. Instituted as an incentive for perduring the test of time, the payout seems rather gimmicky at best, in order to protect the running order, or at least part of the “history” of F1.
Sponsorship money has been slowly evaporating in F1 since the 2008 financial crisis. Of course, there are exceptions like Ferrari, who receive extensive media coverage. But look at teams like the recently defunct Caterham or HRT. Their sponsorship deals, or lack there of, made it incredible difficult for the teams to progress up the grid and even survive. Ecclestone, being as outspoken as he can be, once praised Williams for its sensible spending as the middle field teams clamored for a redistribution of money, in order to help secure their survival. Just a paragraph above, I mentioned Williams does indeed receive the “historic” payment which is more of an additional life line, since they suffered greatly after parting ways with BMW. It seems more of a consolation price for their un-competitive years.
“Don’t spend as much. Try to run your company in a very sensible way, which companies have to do. Cut your expenditure to meet your income. Don’t spend as much as you like and hope somebody is going to subsidise you.” -Bernie Ecclestone
And now we have Bernie at his finest, preaching finance, while he secretly subsidizes the “Historic” teams. It is this secrecy that has to end, because at the end it makes the sport contradict itself. F1 should be about a push for technological innovation, the best minds putting their expertise to give us road relevance tech that can be applied today for a better future. It shouldn’t be only about outspending your rivals, it should be about outsmarting them. Though at the moment, those two seem to go hand in hand, they shouldn’t be. I want to see a Williams triumph again. I want to see risky entrepreneurs and fans try and outsmart the stable. How else can you forge the history of the Future?
I’d mention Brawn GP, but remember that when it was Honda, the Japanese had sunk well over U$ 300 million in the development process before they pulled the plug and Brawn bought them.
It is not about over-protecting those who are already financially sound. It is about giving the small teams, a back-marker, a chance to shine. What made the early decades of F1 so great? It was the chance for everyone to get involved. And that is what is missing now a days. I’m not calling for Bernie to take away historic teams cash bonus and just shove it in the small teams pockets. This money, should be used to help the small teams go around the world and promote themselves and the sport. Give them a chance to go show off their cars riding through the streets of cities that have never heard the rumble of an F1 engine. Let them go to historic tracks and unknown circuits of the world to get close to the fans, to test and innovate to secure there future. With the current testing restrictions, the big team teams are dying for a chance to experiment on F1 cars. Why not let the smaller teams be unrestricted, aided by the historic money and the engine manufacturers, we could see a more diverse, competitive, and fuller grid.
I want Renault to stay in F1. But I don’t want them staying because they are being payed to do so. I hate when the sport promotes the established teams, further killing the competitive nature of F1 while it does nothing new to help those that make up the rest of the field; because it just wouldn’t be the same if we had a 10 car grid.
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