Worried Renault fears Haas precedent has 'changed F1 forever'

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Renault F1 Team boss Cyril Abiteboul fears that Haas' approach to F1 may have set a precedent that has changed the sport forever.

Because of its close ties and technical collaboration with Ferrari, Haas is seen as a 'B-Team' by its rivals, exploiting an approach that has offered the US outfit many benefits.

While Ferrari enjoys a similar partnership with Alfa Romeo/Sauber, Red Bull has a de facto working relationship with junior squad Toro Rosso, and Mercedes collaborates with Racing Point.

Renault has so far shied away from a 'B-Team' alliance, but Abiteboul wonders whether the model pioneered by Haas has now become indispensable.

"We now have the operation we wanted when to we started", Abiteboul told Auto Motor und Sport's Michael Schmidt.

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

"Our plan was to operate at the same level as the top teams. But they have continued to grow at the same pace as us and with such crazy numbers that we cannot, and do not, want to follow them."

Cue in Haas and its alliance with Ferrari, or Formula 1's very own Pandora's box.

"Haas has created a precedent that is now difficult to go back on," added Abiteboul.

"For me, there are 'before Haas' and 'after Haas' eras. It has changed Formula 1, and possibly forever. Ten teams have become four or five.

"That’s something we did not foresee in our strategy. Soon, you won't be able to win to win if you don’t have a B-Team."

Abiteboul sees the situation feeding on itself and believes the FIA should intervene.

"Before we can beat Ferrari, we first have to beat Haas. And the harder that is, the harder it is to get more prize money and sponsors," he added.

"We see this situation as very serious and it’s not just a problem for Renault, but also for anyone who can't afford this model.

"I don’t know how to stop this arms race, and these satellite teams are a part of that. The FIA must recognise it. We do not want to be a part of a formula one like that."

Furthermore, the prospect of a budget cap being implemented from 2021 when the sport ushers in a new regulation platform won't help the problem says Abiteboul.

"It will be the opposite," he contends. "If you have less available money and resources, a collaboration will help you even more.

"One team can concentrate on the development of aerodynamics, while the other can focus on the chassis.

"That creates a fantastic alliance. If you remain on your own like us, you have no chance."

On paper, a B-Team partnership with McLaren would appear as logical given the Woking-based outfit's engine supply deal with the French manufacturer.

But practically, Abiteboul doesn't see that relationship working.

"Because we are equal teams," he said. "Who will be the king and who will be the slave?

"Perhaps we will have to talk to McLaren at some point, but such an alliance could never be at the level of Ferrari and Haas, Mercedes and Racing Point, Red Bull and Toro Rosso."

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