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Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Renault to continue in Formula 1 after deal is agreed

Fernando Alonso driving for Renault in practice for the Singapore Grand Prix
Renault endured an extremely bumpy season in 2009 after the race-fixing scandal

By Andrew Benson

The Renault team will race on in Formula 1 next year after a deal was struck to secure its future, BBC Sport has learned.

The company had considered its future in F1, but sources say its team will continue under new owners with Renault keeping a minority 25% shareholding.

The team are set to be notified at their headquarters on Friday, with an official announcement likely next week.

It has also been agreed that the team will race as Renault in 2010.

The two front-runners in the battle to take over the team were Luxembourg businessman Gerard Lopez, and David Richards, the boss of the British motor racing engineering firm Prodrive and former team principal of Benetton and BAR in F1.

Lopez is considered the favourite to take over Renault under the auspices of his Genii Capital investment company.

The team's future has been in doubt since Renault held an emergency board meeting in early November to discuss whether to continue in F1.


F1 team review - Renault

The issue has been discussed at further meetings of Renault bosses last week and this, with a final decision understood to have been taken at an executive board meeting on Wednesday.

Detail beyond that is sketchy at the moment, including whether Robert Kubica will be retained as lead driver after signing a contract to replace double world champion Fernando Alonso, who has moved to Ferrari.

Given that the Renault identity will remain it seems certain that the highly rated Pole will be retained.

Renault's decision to examine its participation in F1 came after the team's worst season since it returned to the sport as a constructor in 2002.

They finished eighth out of 10 teams in the world championship, with their best result Alonso's third place in the Singapore Grand Prix.

Far worse for Renault's reputation, though, was the Singapore race-fixing scandal.

Renault were handed a ban from F1, suspended for two years, after being found guilty of asking Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to aid Alonso's chances of winning.

Team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds were banned from motorsport for their part in the conspiracy - Briatore for life and Symonds for five years.

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes in Singapore

Analysis: Renault race-fixing controversy

Both are contesting their bans in the French courts, with a verdict due in the new year.

Piquet was not punished by governing body the FIA after agreeing to blow the whistle on the affair, even though Symonds gave evidence that the plan was the Brazilian's idea.

Two of the team's major sponsors, the Dutch bank ING and the Spanish insurance company Mutua Madrilena ended their relationship with the team with immediate effect over the affair.

Renault's uncertainty over its future in F1 came at the end of a year that has seen three of the major road-car manufacturers end their involvement in the sport.

Honda quit in December last year, but helped secure a management buy-out of its team, which raced as Brawn GP in 2009 and won the drivers' and constructors' world championships.

BMW announced in July its decision to quit F1 at the end of the season, and Toyota made public its withdrawal a few days after the final race in early November.

Despite that, once Renault officially confirms the future of its team, the F1 grid is set to have six more cars on it in 2010 than this year's 20.


BMW has sold its team back to their Swiss founder Peter Sauber, while four new teams have entered.

The Lotus name is returning with a new team set up by Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes.

The Virgin brand, which sponsored Brawn in 2009, has joined forces with the successful junior category race team Manor to form Virgin Grand Prix, which will be launched in London on 15 December.

They will be joined by Spain's Campos Meta 1 and American outfit US F1.

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see also
F1 to introduce new 2010 scoring
11 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Lopez confirms Renault interest
09 Dec 09 |  Formula 1
Briatore attempts to overturn ban
24 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Renault to launch Piquet lawsuit
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault coy on F1 exit decision
05 Nov 09 |  Formula 1
Kubica to join Renault for 2010
07 Oct 09 |  Formula 1
Reeling Renault to continue in F1
24 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault handed suspended F1 ban
21 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Piquet Jr 'sorry' for race-fixing
21 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault blames Briatore & Symonds
17 Sep 09 |  Formula 1

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