Renault commit to F1 after commercial deal

BARCELONA -- Formula One champions Renault signed up for a long-term future in the sport on Sunday after they and other carmakers agreed to a new deal with the commercial rights holders.

"The Renault F1 team... has reinforced its commitment to Formula One beyond 2008," the team said in a statement at the Spanish Grand Prix.

The news came after the group of five carmakers threatening their own rival series from 2008 announced they were ready to sign a deal with rights holders CVC and Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Administration (FOA).

Renault are members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA), along with BMW, DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes, Honda and Toyota.

The five had already signed up for the 2008 season, in order to have a say in rule making before that, but Renault's long-term involvement has been in doubt with the French carmaker wanting to see costs cut and the teams' share of the revenues increased.

"The agreement the team has reached today with FOA (Formula One Administration) expresses the Renault F1 team's commitment to Formula One," team president Alain Dassas said.

"Having entered the 2008 championship last month, this is the next logical step to guarantee the financial stability and competitiveness of our team."

CONSTRUCITVE DIALOGUE

"We have worked hard jointly with our fellow manufacturers in the GPMA to reach an agreement that satisfies our desire to see a balanced distribution of the income generated by our sport," Dassas added.

"We will now pursue our constructive dialogue with the (governing) FIA and the other teams to achieve our shared objectives of an improved sporting show and reduced costs.

"These factors will form the basis for Renault's long-term investment in Formula One."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis, whose team are 40 percent owned by Mercedes, said all five GPMA members were in agreement and expected to sign a formal memorandum of understanding with CVC later on Sunday.

"This will constitute now the biggest single commercial resolution and will allow us to move forward to focus on the future of Formula One," he said.

The threat of a rival series and negotiations for a unified Formula One after the expiry of the existing 'Concorde Agreement' at the end of 2007 has been one of the sport's longest-running sagas.

Dennis said he had met CVC's representatives and BMW board member Burkhard Goeschel in Jersey last week to resolve about 15 outstanding points.

"There are teams who desperately want stability in order to plan," he said.

"This document is only the first step towards (a new) Concorde Agreement, sporting and technical regulations," he added.

"There is a long, long way to go...but this is the core, the absolute cornerstone of the future Concorde Agreement."

Until Sunday the sport was split, with Formula One's other teams -- including Ferrari -- already agreeing separate terms with the commercial rights holders.

F1's new commercial deal
2000 -- German Media company EM.TV & Merchandising buys 50 percent of Formula One holding company SLEC with an option to buy a further 25 percent from Bernie Ecclestone.
2001 -- EM.TV sell half their stake to Germany's Kirch media group. EM.TV/Kirch take control of SLEC by exercising option to buy further 25 percent.
  • Governing FIA sells SLEC a 100 year extension to their commercial rights from 2010 in a $309 million deal.
  • Kirch take control of commercial rights, raising stake in SLEC to 58.3 percent. EM.TV retain 16.7 percent stake, remaining 25 percent held by Ecclestone.
  • European Commission drops lengthy anti-trust probe into Formula One, FIA limited to regulatory role.
  • The Association of European Carmakers (ACEA) says it is setting up a new company (GPWC) to lay the groundwork for a rival series from 2008 to ensure the sport remains free-to-air on global television.

2002 -- Kirch files for insolvency. BayernLB, J.P. Morgan and Lehman Brothers swap their $1.6 billion in loans for a 75 percent stake in Formula One.
2003 -- Carmakers and Ecclestone announce a 'breakthrough' deal in December, both sides signing memorandum of understanding to secure the sport's future. Ecclestone to remain in charge, teams to get far more money.
2004 -- Carmakers terminate memorandum of understanding in April. GPWC founder members Ford announce in September that they are pulling out of Formula One. Jaguar are eventually sold to Red Bull, who sign up with Ecclestone.
2005 -- Champions Ferrari abandon GPWC in January, breaking with carmakers and signing an extension to existing Concorde Agreement to 2012.
  • BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Honda, Renault and Toyota set up Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA) in May, replacing GPWC.
  • CVC take control of commercial rights, buying out the banks and acquiring Ecclestone's 25 percent stake in SLEC. CVC form new company, Alpha Prema.
  • In December, former champions Williams commit to existing championship to 2012, the fifth team to do so after Ferrari, Red Bull, Midland and Toro Rosso.

2006 -- March. GPMA carmaker-owned teams submit entries for the 2008 season by end of March deadline after FIA warns they will otherwise be frozen out of decision-making process.
  • The European Commission grants conditional approval for CVC to take control of SLEC, telling them they must sell MotoGP promoter Dorna.
  • May 14. GPMA announce they are ready to sign a memorandum of understanding with CVC, champions Renault end speculation about their future and commit long-term.

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