Renault has warned late-paying Formula One teams that they risk having their engine supply withheld if matters are not resolved in the next few weeks.
Speaking to reporters at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth race of the season, Renault Sport F1 head Jean-Michel Jalinier indicated that the French engine makers are losing patience.
Renault supply world champions Red Bull and sister team Toro Rosso as well as cash-strapped Lotus and tail-enders Caterham, owned by Malaysia’s AirAsia aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes.
Jalinier did not mention any customers by name but the Red Bull teams, owned by the Austrian energy drink company and billionaire founder Dietrich Mateschitz, are unlikely to be behind with payments.
“Our resources are coming from two sources: One is Renault, and we have been able to secure the right resources…and the other part of it is coming from the teams, because we are selling the engines to the teams,” he said.
“On this part I must say we are not at an acceptable situation, because some of the teams are just late in payments, and at the time you need to spend resources to catch up you cannot afford to have those [late] payments.”
The new V6 turbo hybrid power units are considerably more expensive than last year’s now-defunct V8s and Renault started the season playing catch-up with rivals Mercedes, who are well ahead on performance.
Jalinier said that while Renault could live with late payments “up to a certain point”, the critical point – likely to be the showcase Monaco Grand Prix later this month – was fast approaching.
“It’s just weeks away…then we’ll have to address the situation with the teams and take decisions, because that’s something we cannot carry forward,” he said.
Asked whether that could include withholding engines, Jalinier replied: “That is an option. You first need to work with your team and get back to some kind of financial situation.”
Renault and Caterham announced in November 2012 a joint venture for production of a high-performance road car but a source familiar with the matter told Reuters in March that it had been scrapped.
Neither Lotus, who had financial difficulties last year, nor Caterham have scored points so far this season. (Reuters)