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Flavio Briatore

Briatore urges Renault to change its drivers

09/12/2015
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Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore has urged the French carmaker to look carefully at its contracted driver lineup for 2016.

Amid Lotus’ struggle for survival late this season, it re-signed the lucratively PDVSA-backed Pastor Maldonado and announced that Friday driver Jolyon Palmer will make his race debut for the Enstone team next year.

But that was before Renault announced that it is definitely re-acquiring its former works team.

After surviving a court date over the unpaid tax this week that could have seen Lotus put into administration, Lotus CEO Matthew Carter said he believes Renault will honour the contracts with Maldonado and Palmer.

But Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn had declared: “We will wait a few weeks.

“I refer to a meeting in January 2016 when we will explain the organisation, goals, strategy and we will also talk about drivers and partners,” he told Le Figaro newspaper.

Former team boss Briatore insists Renault must revisit the issue of drivers.

“It’s true that Renault must rebuild everything,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport, “including the technical team.

“Enstone lost some great engineers, and Viry also. It will be not easy. If you want to win, you must change the drivers as well.”

Counting himself out of the running, however, was 2015 Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, even though his French nationality would appear to make him ideal.

Grosjean, however, has signed up with the new Ferrari-linked team Haas for 2016, declaring: “At Renault they need at least three years to get back to the top and I’m almost 30.

“Let’s say I have ahead of me a maximum of five or six seasons left in F1. I can’t wait any longer and this option (Haas) could open other opportunities for me.”

Canada GP promoter admits late to pay suppliers
Dec.9 (GMM) The promoter of the popular Canadian grand prix has fallen behind in payments to suppliers, according to the Quebec newspaper La Presse.

“It’s true. I confirm it,” said Francois Dumontier, the president and sole shareholder of the race promoter Octane Racing Group.

Dumontier secured the future of the Montreal race, held at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, in 2009, but a new 10-year-old contract through 2024 began last year.

“It was difficult this year despite a growth in ticket and corporate sales,” he admits.

La Presse claims that, six months after the 2015 race, Octane still owes a six-digit sum to some key suppliers.

“This is not unusual nor the first time it has happened,” Dumontier insists. “These are people with whom we have done business for a long time.

“99 per cent of them are still there and still wanting to do the grand prix,” he said.

So he said the race’s financial situation is not dire, declaring that he is “much less worried than two or three years ago”.

But in the past, when the race was promoted by Normand Legault, suppliers were always paid, La Presse said.

“These are two different worlds,” Dumontier argued. “I am a ‘mom and pop shop’, an entrepreneur who took a chance with the grand prix in 2009. Unfortunately, I have no fortune.

“Like any private contractor, when things are going well, everyone is super happy. When things go less well, an entrepreneur is required to work with his partners and suppliers.”

He also claimed that the current financial environment and the terms of the contract with Bernie Ecclestone’s Formula One Management are not ideally matched.

“Structurally, the contract is clearly not optimal,” said Dumontier. “I am very sure that Mr Ecclestone is a fine negotiator.”

He said things would be much easier if the Canadian grand prix could secure a title sponsor, and had hoped to sign something up by Christmas.

“I am obliged to put my patience to the test,” said Dumontier. “I think it will come to fruition after the course of the Christmas holidays.”

Dumontier also said his door is “wide open” for talks with potential new shareholders in Octane.

“I think when an owner like the one in Austin (for the US GP), with a lot more financial resources than me, may lose his grand prix because it is not profitable, it shows it is a business where you can no longer be a ‘mom and pop shop’ like me,” he declared.

Dumontier is also cheering on the Montreal-born driver Lance Stroll, who despite his tender age of 17 has just signed up as a test driver with Williams.

“The Jacques Villeneuve years were certainly very good years for the grand prix,” he said.

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