David Richards to take over at Renault?

Much of the reaction to the departures of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds from Renault have so far been focussed on what it says about the Singaproe crash scandal.

But the sudden loss of the managing director and director of engineering means the team are faced with a serious operational problem – assuming, of course, they aren’t thrown out of the championship on Monday.

According to an article on Speed TV, David Richards was spotted at Renault’s Enstone factory recently, leading to suggestions that the Prodrive boss could be about to step in.

Richards briefly ran the team when it was still known as Benetton. He took over from Briatore, who had set up a company to supply customer Renault-derived engines. Richards was replaced by Rocco Benetton later the following year.

Could this prove a way for Prodrive to finally break into F1? Richards has made two bids to enter F1 with his team in the last three years. On the first occasion his application was accepted by the FIA but withdrawn after the governing body failed to introduce rules allowing customer cars.

Prodrive were also among the unsuccessful applicants for a place on the F1 grid in 2010, possibly because the team preferred Mercedes engines over the FIA’s supply of Cosworths. The company also looked at buying the Honda assets at the end of last year.

Is Richards the right man for Renault? Have your say in the comments.

Update: I’ve just heard from a source of my own that Richards was at the Renault factory today.

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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23 comments on David Richards to take over at Renault?

  1. If Renault get banned could the team be repackaged and reentered as Prodrive? Is it even legal?

  2. Why not? Can Richards merge whatever staff he has now with the existing Renault team? Buying out Renault would make sense for him.

  3. Ned Flanders said on 16th September 2009, 23:25

    De ja vu.. it’s like the 90′s all over again. I thought Richards did a good job with BAR and he’s certainly had some sucess in WRC so why not?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 23:31

      Interesting you mention the WRC, he did say a few days ago that he wanted to get a team in it again.

      • …And without wanting to pour cold water on the Richards-to-F1 theory…

        a) Citroen (French) have won the last few years’ WRC titles.
        b) Renault (French) may be looking for something else to do that isn’t F1 now their relatonship is tarnished there
        c) Richards isn’t doing anything in WRC at the moment
        d) WRC has some new money-saving rules of its own coming in next year
        e) Renault already has a choice of sporty hatchbacks to base a rally car on…

        Actually sounds more likely to me that Renault are going into WRC, rather than Richards joining Renault F1.

  4. David A said on 16th September 2009, 23:58

    I guess that a little good news could come out of this debacle. I emphasise the word little.

  5. Hammad said on 17th September 2009, 0:00

    I haven’t heard of a team called Renaukt :P

  6. Bartholomew said on 17th September 2009, 0:13

    Flavio has a lot to enjoy in life … so he will ride into the sunset a satisfied man. There are so many things to keep him busy. We will miss the personality of Uncle Flav. ThereĀ“s no denying he has achieved a great lot in F1.
    If this gentleman Richards takes over the ex – Renault, it would be great.

  7. Does that mean that they need to relook at the Concorde Agreement again? If Prodrive absorbs Renault F1, are they still entitled to monies from the championship?

    I am assuming of course if Renault isn’t thrown out of this year’s championship and made to return last year’s prize money…

    I’m not even sure whether if Brawn is entitled to the prize money awarded to Honda in 2008…

    • Journeyer said on 17th September 2009, 6:54

      KNF, in theory, yes. Brawn did receive the money Honda was entitled to last year, so Prodrive should be entitled to any Renault money too. That said, Renault would probably want to settle this before the final 2010 entry list comes out to avoid the hassle Brawn had to go through.

  8. Paige Michael-Shetley said on 17th September 2009, 7:34

    Richards would be a good guy to help Renault get through this: experienced, even-keeled.

    Another thought:

    Perhaps Prodrive and Renault could “merge,” and Prodrive would then become Renault’s works time, ala McLaren-Mercedes? I think that would be best for all. Prodrive could enter with some resources in place (technical minds and information from Renault), and Renault could stay in F1 as an engine constructor at a fraction of the cost of running an entire team, all while having the facility already in place to build engines.

  9. DGR-F1 said on 17th September 2009, 8:33

    Without Flavio around to convince them, what reason is there for Renault to stay connected to a tainted team in a tainted sport?
    If Richards is going to come in, maybe it will only be temporarily for the rest of the season, since both top people have walked away, and Renault will need someone they can trust to at least keep things running for the last few races while they decide whether to sell or not.
    Of course, there is also a possibility they might switch to the ‘Nissan’ brand and keep going, or there again, they might do a Honda and shut up shop tomorrow….

    • patrickl said on 17th September 2009, 10:21

      Isn’t that exactly what the article says?

      Could this prove a way for Prodrive to finally break into F1?

    • Now that’s interesting — a switch to Nissan branding would remove some of the taint from the Renault brand, allow the team (assuming it is not excluded next Monday) to collect any monies that are coming to Renault since it’s fundamentally the same entry, and maximise the corporate benefits of F1 participation for the Renault/Nissan group as a whole.

  10. I thought the car manufacturers were locked in until 2012.

    Am I right in thinking Renault cannot leave unless they are kicked out?

  11. Wow, I’m gob smacked. Clearly David wants to be in F1 big time. If this is all true I wont be surprised if he eventually buys out Renault…

  12. Steph90 said on 17th September 2009, 14:37

    David Richards has denied he is in talks with Renault about stepping in to replace the departed team boss Flavio Briatore.

    Richards, the Prodrive chief and a former boss of Renault’s previous guise Benetton, has been mentioned among other names including Alain Prost and GP2 team boss Frederic Vasseur as potential candidates for Briatore’s job.

    It was even reported on Wednesday that Briton Richards, 57, had visited Renault’s Enstone headquarters for talks.

    But in a newspaper article, it is reported that “Richards told The Times he had not been contacted by the French company as of last night.”

    The Swiss newspaper Blick said Prost, the quadruple world champion and former owner and boss of an eponymous team, is “right at the top of the list” to succeed Briatore as Renault F1 managing director.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 17th September 2009, 21:16

      Yeah agree with this, it may be a good way for the French brand to retain some credibility. Although not sure if hes actually the right man, it would be a popular move, and may even hold some weight with the FIA going forward. I think the Dave Richards story may be a smoke screen.

  13. steph90 said on 18th September 2009, 10:10

    Prost has been saying how much of an ‘honour’ it would be to get the job but that no-one has been in contact

  14. Salut Gilles said on 18th September 2009, 14:26

    I thought the car manufacturers were locked in until 2012.

    Am I right in thinking Renault cannot leave unless they are kicked out?

    I believe that they can leave, they just have to pay some hefty financial penalties.

    A corporation whose name has been publicly linked to cheating probably would not hesitate to pay those financial penalties.

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