Withdrawal symptoms!


This week started with the news that Bridgestone will withdraw from the sport after 2010 and yesterday Toyota kissed wait or bye?F1 goodbye and now there is news that Renault held a meeting to discuss their future in the motorsport.

Were Renault to pull out, it will be an extraordinary year of the exit of major manufacturer teams in F1. Honda and BMW exit is not even a year old by now. Only remaining manufacturer involvement will be Mercedes and Ferrari.

Toyota’s reason to leave sport is due to falling sales of their cars. For the first time in their history since 1937 they lost money in a fiscal year. They lost $4.74b in 2008 and are expected to lose $8.3b in 2009. This is compounded by Toyota’s F1 programme’s high costs and failure to live up-to its expectations. In last 8 years of their involvement Toyota was on podium only for 8 times. Although Toyota signed concorde agreement to remain in the sport till 2012 but the numbers have played a huge part in their decision to quit.

Renault always looked like first time to leave the sport. They are already indebted by bail out package from their goverment. Along with that Carlos Ghosn isn’t F1 friendly. Numbers can play a part there too. Recently, Renault also had to suffer from ignominy of Piquet-gate. F1 is famous across the world and such incidents really tarnish the image of the whole company. Although Renault have fired the culprits but still this disgrace will be languishing at the back of their minds and can act as another factor on why they want to withdraw.

Renault can remain as a engine supplier much like 90s when they formed a formidable champion car with Williams.

The situation never looked good for manufacturers to remain in the sport in the current climate. The economic meltdown in the past 2 years have taken a toll on manufacturers and when the core business suffers, other things are bound to suffer.  F1 is all about cycles and in the current phase the number of manufacturer entries will be low.

Max Mosley already envisaged such a scenario and he was pushing for low costs but his methods were too radical and this led to famous FIA-FOTA war. His bad mouthing in the press might have already made F1 a less attractive place for manufacturers who were considering a breakaway series.

I would be upset to see Renault leave the sport. It is my second team because of Fernando Alonso. Also, a hugely talented driver in Robert Kubica’s future will be in disarray again after similar thing happened in BMW.

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