The beginning of the 2021 Formula One season was animated by rumors surrounding Williams potentially becoming a new customer team for Alpine. Renault’s CEO, Luca De Meo turned the rumors down, saying it is financially too dangerous in the current times.
Renault is the only engine manufacturer without a customer team in 2021. In the past two years, the french brand lost two major customers, namely McLaren and Red Bull. This news was mostly considered by the fans as very bad for Renault. Nonetheless, Renault’s CEO, Luca De Meo, pointed out the fact that in the current times, and just a few months after the Boulogne-Billancourt-based brand almost went bankrupt, not having any customer for their V6 Hybrid engine concept is actually not so dramatic.
“Of course theoretically, it’s better when you have your engine used by others because you can maybe exchange data, share some of the things,” de Meo admitted, in an interview with Motorsports.com.
The Italian, however, qualified his words, saying it was a blessing in disguise not having any F1 customer in 2021.
“But the current conditions – and this I say it very clearly – especially economical conditions, of transfer of technology between one team and another, the ones that are defined by the federation – are actually not very favorable,” De Meo said.
“So the price that other teams pay to access the technology of people like us that make the initial investment, it’s not a good business case, if you want my opinion. (…) I don’t want to enter into numbers, but I can tell you that this is not a good deal.”
We should not overlook the fact that Luca De Meo recently launched his “Renaulution” plan, aiming to turn around Renault’s finances and get them out of the crisis. Not taking too many risks in domains like motorsports, which should only be a way to display all your technical knowledge and passion for cars, is therefore probably a better decision for the 53 years old CEO.
Alpine’s director, Laurent Rossi agreed with De Meo’s point, saying that having a team to supply with your power units is favorable to the development of your cars, thanks to all the additional data you can gather. However, it is also a big financial question mark for the supplier, especially if he is not able to deliver the promised performances.
“Providing a power unit to others is, as Luca said, can be a benefit, because you can derive some extra data points to further solidify the reliability and performance of your power unit,” Laurent Rossi pointed out.
“That said, the way it has been built up until recently makes it dangerously expensive, in fact, as soon as you enter troubles in terms of dealing and managing the performance of the other power units,” the French director added.
“If you have reliability issues on the track, then suddenly you have like a crisis, and you need to delegate a part of your team there.”