Renault ponders terminating F1 engine programme

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Renault is reportedly debating its future in Formula 1 as an engine manufacturer, which has thrown Alpine into a scramble for an alternative power unit supply for 2026.

Renault has initiated the development of a new unit for Formula 1’s future engine regulation cycle that will kick off in 18 months.

However, the high cost of the new hardware is a concern for the French constructor, so cancelling the project altogether would represent significant cost savings, though it would also signal the end of Renault’s long-standing presence in F1 as an engine manufacturer.

Faced with the potential departure of its parent company as their engine supplier, Alpine has initiated discussions with other manufacturers to secure a reliable powertrain for the 2026 season and beyond.

With the arrival of Audi and Red Bull Powertrains/Ford on the horizon, the number of engine suppliers was expected to rise to six in 2026. However, Renault's departure could reduce that number back to five, leaving half the grid dependent on customer engines.

Who could pick up the slack?

Several potential partnerships exist for Alpine. Here's a breakdown of the possibilities:

Red Bull Powertrains and Audi: Both manufacturers will have an initial focus on supplying their own teams in 2026, and on finetuning the performance and reliability of their product before considering a customer supply agreement.

Honda: The Japanese manufacture has struck a deal with Aston Martin from 2026, but it might be interested in generating some revenue from Alpine.

Ferrari: With Sauber's departure, Ferrari loses a customer team, making them also a viable option for Alpine. Ferrari has previously expressed openness to supplying three teams.

Mercedes: The German manufacturer’s current engine supply is set to be reduced to just two teams – McLaren and Williams – following Aston’s switch to Honda. Mercedes might represent Alpine’s best option, especially as the former has previously partnered with the Enstone squad back in its Lotus days.

While Alpine is exploring other options, Formula 1 regulations provide a safety net. If they haven't secured an engine supplier by May 15th, 2025, the FIA will ensure they receive a power unit for the 2026 season.

But a switch in engine suppliers inevitably raises questions about Alpine's branding. It might be hard-pressed to make marketing sense of a collaboration with a different manufacturer, although this could be solved by Alpine rebadging its power unit supply.

The coming weeks are likely to be critical for both Renault and Alpine. The former must decide on the fate of its F1 engine program sooner rather than later if cost is the crux of the matter.

Meanwhile, Alpine will continue exploring alternative partnerships to secure their future on the grid beyond 2025.

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