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Renault threaten F1 pullout

PARIS, May 13, 2009 (AFP) – Renault on Wednesday became the latest Formula One team to threaten not to take part in the 2010 World Championship unless the International Automobile Federation (FIA) changes its new rules.FORMULA_ONE"If the decisions announced by the World Council on April 29, 2009 are not changed, we would have no choice other than to pull out of the Formula One World Championship at the end of 2009," Renault F1 chief Flavio Briatore said in a communique.

"The decision of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA) to introduce two sets of Formula One technical regulations for the 2010 Formula One season has caused the Renault Group to reconsider its entry," Briatore added, demanding wider consultation.

Briatore spoke a day after Ferrari threatened to pull out of next season’s championship for the same reason, the Prancing Horse insisting the team would not continue in F1 unless the FIA reverses a decision to set a budget cap of 40 million pounds (44.8 million euros) on teams’ spending next season.

That statement sent shockwaves through the world of F1 as Ferrari is the only constructor to have taken part ever since the World Championship’s inception in 1950.

Red Bull gave a similar ultimatum a couple of days earlier, and Toyota have also voiced opposition.

The FIA laid down the new restrictions as a response to the global financial downturn which has ensured that F1 must rein in its expenditure.

According to Renault, "there is frustration that FOTA’s (Formula One Teams Association) constructive proposals, including major cost saving measures to be adopted progressively between 2009 and 2012, which were carefully constructed by FOTA members, have been completely ignored without any form of consultation by the FIA with the teams," the statement added.

"It should be stressed that FOTA has set the same, if not lower, financial objective as the FIA, but Renault strongly believes that this must be introduced through a different procedure agreed by all parties.

"Renault also believes that it is paramount that the governance of the sport is coordinated with a spirit of consultation with all parties (FIA, FOM, FOTA) in order to achieve a better balance between the costs and the revenues.

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"Renault is also of the firm view that all entrants in the World Championship must adhere to and operate under the same regulations."

ING Renault F1 Team president Bernard Rey said: "Renault has always considered Formula One as the pinnacle of motor sport and the perfect stage to demonstrate technical excellence. We remain committed to the sport.

"However, we cannot be involved in a championship operating with different sets of rules, and if such rules are put into effect, we will be forced to pull out at the end of this season."

Briatore stressed "our aim is to reduce costs while maintaining the high standards that make Formula One one of the most prestigious brands on the market" but insisted that "we refuse to accept unilateral governance handed out by the FIA.

Although F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said prior to Tuesday’s statement he believed Ferrari would not quit F1, telling the Times newspaper he believed that both sides would "get to grips" with the issue in a mutually satisfactory way, other teams have also threatened to quit.

Under the proposed voluntary budget cap, those teams who spend below the figure will be able to take advantage of various technical benefits which are currently banned under current specifications.

Last week, Williams technical chief Patrick Head had expressed his fears over the risk of a "two-tier championship".

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