Renault CEO Luca de Meo has declared that there is an interest in joining forces with a second team on the grid amid continued reports of Michael Andretti looking to launch a Formula 1 team.
Andretti was confirmed by 1978 world champion and father Mario to have applied to enter a team into the pinnacle of motorsport in 2024 having previously made an effort to buy Sauber and allegedly shown interest in buying the Haas team from his compatriot Gene Haas.
Both of those teams are powered by Ferrari, while Mercedes have three customer teams in Aston Martin, McLaren and Williams.
Honda are able to cross-reference data between Red Bull and AlphaTauri, but Renault only power Alpine, so do not have any comparisons to draw, which does not help their development scope.
This will have been part of the reason that they did not develop their engine at all between 2018 and 2022 but, despite the lack of another team running that power unit, Alpine’s Fernando Alonso maintains that the Renault engine is more or less on par with the other three manufacturers.
“The Ferrari engine and the Honda are still a little ahead, but Renault is there. We lack a second reference team but the data is encouraging,” he said.
De Meo maintains that Laurent Rossi, Alpine’s CEO, will make the final decision as to whether Renault’s engines are supplied to a second team, but he believes it would be a positive step to have more than one Renault-powered team on the grid.
“It’s not me who manages it, it’s Laurent Rossi but I think there are discussions,” said de Meo.
“It’s interesting because there is a great project behind it, there are competent people who have the means and it can be good for Formula 1.”
In 2013, Renault supplied power to Red Bull and Williams as well as Lotus, but they lost Williams at the end of that year, before Lotus began using Mercedes power in 2015.
That left them powering only Red Bull – by which time they had a wretched relationship with the Milton Keynes side – but they bought Lotus ahead of the 2016 season, seeing a return of the Renault works team.
McLaren would acquire their engines for three years between 2018 and 2020 as Red Bull switched to Honda, but the Woking side too went back to Mercedes engines ahead of the 2021 season, meaning that, for two consecutive years, Alpine are the only team utilising Renault power.
De Meo divulged that he would like to form another partnership on the F1 grid.
“Obviously, in the current context, we are looking for the possibility of joining with someone,” he stated.
“At one time we sold engines to Red Bull and McLaren, but that is no longer the case.”
However, the Italian does not wish to use a team like Andretti’s as a “B” team, as this essentially strips the championship down to a contest between the big hitters, and it heavily restricts the progress of smaller teams trying to mix it up with the top teams.
In that vein, F1 would be in danger of becoming the “manufacturers’ championship,” and not a drivers’ one, in the eyes of IndyCar driver Josef Newgarden.
“I’m not necessarily a big fan of this idea. I think Formula 1 deserves ten teams that do the job from A to Z,” said de Meo.
“It would be a bit like the Spanish league with Barcelona A, Barcelona B, Barcelona C, Real Madrid 1, Real Madrid 2. There would be no Atletico, and that is not my vision.
“I imagine that if the system is like that, it’s because it suits someone.”
The 54-year-old advises caution on any additional projects though, affirming that it has to be financially sustainable.
“It’s good – of course it’s good. It’s good for the sport, it’s good for the fans,” he said.
“I’m an automotive guy, so seeing the big car manufacturers believe in that can only make me happy, but only if we have an economic equation that works and reasonable budgets.
“If it becomes an explosion of costs, then we can no longer manage that and it’s bad for business.”
Alpine currently sit sixth in the Constructors’ Championship, three points behind fifth-placed Alfa Romeo.