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Bob Bell Renault Manor

Is Bob Bell leading Renault take over of Manor?

Bob Bell Renault Manor

Bob Bell’s shock switch to financially struggling Formula 1 back-marker Manor team has added fuel to speculation about the future of engine supplier Renault, and that the move is the first step by the French manufacturer to return to the grand prix grid as a fully fledged works team.

Earlier, former Mercedes technical chief Bell was said to have returned to Renault, where in 2009 he emerged unscathed through the ‘Crashgate’ scandal to be installed as the works team’s boss in place of disgraced Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.

After that, Renault sold its Enstone based outfit to Lotus, and Bell moved to Mercedes. But he left the Silver Arrows camp last year and was reportedly once again a central figure at Renault as the French carmaker considers its next steps in Formula 1.

Renault has been openly contemplating returning to full works team status in F1, given its tumultuous relationship with Red Bull in the new V6 turbo power unit era.

Kubica Renault

Auto Motor und Sport reports that Renault officials met in Monaco with Matthew Carter, the Lotus team chief executive, about buying back Enstone.

But the report also said Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn was trackside in Monte Carlo, where he joined a representative of French oil partner Total in a meeting with Bernie Ecclestone.

“It is clear that Renault wants to return to being its own team,” wrote correspondent Michael Schmidt.

The move by Renault-linked Bell to Manor was completely unexpected and has taken the F1 world by surprise. Also noteworthy is that, joining Bell in switching to the former Marussia team is engineer Gianluca Pisanello, formerly of Caterham and Toyota.

All heavy hitters for a team who appear to survive only from race-to-race, and many in the paddock predicting it’s demise, in its current form, before the season ends.

Schmidt reports that both Bell and Pisanello have in recent weeks been linked with the proposed new Renault works team being championed by Cyril Abiteboul and brand ambassador Alain Prost.