Renault could leave F1 because of 'different universe' created by Mercedes & Ferrari

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Renault F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul has slammed what he considers a "different universe" created by Mercedes & Ferrari in Formula 1.

The French manufacturer returned to the grid as a works team in 2016 and since then, has been trying to close the performance gap having started at the back of the grid.

Now the lead midfield outfit, having finished fourth in the Constructors' standings last year, the step to catch their fellow carmakers remain stubbornly large with much of that down to their operational and financial might.

Indeed, while Renault has increased their staff base to 1200 people at Enstone and Viry, that is still 400 below their rivals at Brackley and Maranello.

"We now have the operation we decided to have," Abiteboul said to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.

"What we did not realise back then was that some had begun this crazy arms race, particularly Ferrari and Mercedes. That's a different sport -- a different universe.

"Our plan was to operate at the level of the top teams but they have continued to grow at almost our pace and with such crazy numbers that we cannot and do not want to go with them."

What has also started happening is midfield squads are essentially accepting they'll never compete against the manufacturer teams and are working with them in technical partnerships.

Haas was the first to do so with Ferrari when they joined the F1 grid in 2016 and Sauber has followed suit, now running under the banner of another Fiat brand in Alfa Romeo.

"Haas created a precedent that is difficult to go back on now," the Renault boss declared.

"For me, there is the before Haas and after Haas eras. It changed F1, possibly forever. 10 teams have become four or five, that's something we did not think about in our strategy. Soon, you will not be able to win if you don't have a B team.

"Before I [Renault] can beat Ferrari, I first have to beat Haas and the harder that is, the harder it is to get more prize money or sponsors. We see this situation as very serious and it's not just a problem for Renault, but for anyone who cannot afford this model."

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Great independent teams like McLaren and Williams has suffered because of these partnerships and it is hoped F1 rulemakers will try to reduce the influence of such teams in the 2021 regulations, something that may also include a budget cap.

Abiteboul though thinks the opposite might happen.

"If you have less money and resources available, one team can concentrate on the aerodynamics and the other on the chassis. It will make these alliances fantastic," he believes.

"If you are isolated like us, there is no chance."

It even led to the Renault chief concluding: "We do not want to be a part of an F1 like that."