APRIL 8, 1996
Renault Indycar bound in 1998?
There is, therefore, a discussion going on within Renault about the value of continuing in F1 in the long-term and risk a performance slide, or to quit at the top and do something else. F1 has proved to be a hugely successful marketing tool for Renault, gaining the company a sporting image. F1 has also been "very useful" for Renault's marketing in Latin America - the company's major target market in the years ahead.
Although initial rumors that Renault Sport might be considering Indycar racing were discounted because Renault has not been involved in the North American market since it sold American Motors to Chrysler in 1987. The market penetration and popularity of Indycar racing in Latin America, however, is growing fast and Renault may decide that a switch to Indycars would prove to be a better marketing decision.
The decision for 1998 is to be made within the next two months - and is likely to be announced at the French GP in early July. If Renault does decide to pull out, Williams, Benetton and Ligier will all be looking for new engines for 1998 and that is likely to shake up the existing market as manufacturers take advantage of the opportunity to work with one of the two top teams.