Renault and team principal Vasseur part ways


Formula 1’s winter winds of change continued with Renault and team principal Frederic Vasseur parting company a day after champions Mercedes announced the departure of technical head Paddy Lowe.

Renault, who took over the failing Lotus team at the end of 2015 and finished ninth of 11 teams last year, said the split with Vasseur was by mutual consent.

“Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future,” the French manufacturer said in a statement.

It promised more information when the 2017 car was unveiled on 21 February.

The team, who have Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg and Britain’s Jolyon Palmer as drivers, will be run in the meantime by president Jerome Stoll and managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

The season starts in Australia on March 26 with major changes designed to make cars faster, more aggressive-looking and harder to handle.

Vasseur, who became principal midway through last season, brought a strong reputation with him after steering his ART team to success in the GP2 support series.

Hulkenberg won the GP2 title with ART in 2009 and had been looking forward to linking up with Vasseur again after switching from Force India at the end of last season.

There had, however, been reports of differences of opinion among the management despite Renault, who have restructured the team and recruited more staff, setting what looked like realistic targets for their return as a manufacturer.

“We knew… when we took over the company that 2016 would be very difficult in terms of results. That’s life. We have to build up a strong team for the future,” Vasseur told Reuters a year ago.

Kevin Magnussen hinted at leadership confusion, among the Renault F1 team management, when he decided to leave the team to join Haas, “Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to know who is actually in charge here and who will make a decision.”

Changes in the F1 world have been rife since the last race back in November and although likely to be unconnected with Vasseur’s departure, Lowe is expected to show up at Williams after a period of ‘gardening leave’, the two exits provided further evidence of a major pre-season shake-up of the paddock landscape.

For the first time in 23 years, Formula One will start a season without a reigning world champion on the starting grid as a consequence of Nico Rosberg retiring five days after winning the title with Mercedes. The German’s replacement has yet to be announced.

McLaren had already parted company with their boss Ron Dennis, while engineering head Pat Symonds left Williams at the end of last year. The Manor team are meanwhile facing an uncertain future after going into administration this month.

Renault Statement:

Renault Sport Racing announces that Frédéric Vasseur is leaving his role as Team Principal of the Renault Sport Formula One Team.
After a first season spent relaunching and rebuilding its Formula 1 team, Renault Sport Racing and Frédéric Vasseur have agreed by mutual consent to part company, effective as of today.

Both parties remain committed to maintaining the good working relationship they have enjoyed and expect this to take a new form sometime in the future.

The outlook of Renault’s second season back in Formula 1, as well as the resources implemented to meet them, will be set out in detail at the presentation of the team’s new race car.

The Renault Sport Racing and the Formula 1 team continue to be managed by Jérôme Stoll, its President, and Cyril Abiteboul, its Managing Director.