Renault will not back down in its desire to ensure that new engine rules go ahead in 2013, with the French car manufacturer admitting that its Formula 1 future is in question because of uncertainty over the issue.
The Formula 1 Commission is due to meet next week to discuss the plans for 2013, with the FIA stating that it is open to a move to delay the change to 1.6-liter turbo engines if it is decided that the sport's main stakeholders want that to happen.
Although a postponement would likely need unanimous approval of teams and engine makers, Renault insists that the FIA's offer is of no interest. Renault Sport managing director Jean-Francois Caubet said he respected the concerns that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Cosworth have over the 2013 switch, but says that Renault has no desire to see a delay.
"Today we have not changed our mind," Caubet said. "We have told Jean Todt and Bernie [Ecclestone] that we are pushing for the new engine because when we decided not to stop in F1, the three conditions were very clear for our board of directors. The first one was to change the technology of the engine to make it more relevant, to find a link between Formula 1 and the product. Secondly, to reduce the costs and, thirdly, to perform.
"We have halved the costs, we have performed with Red Bull Racing and with Renault, but the problem of the road relevance is a key point for us. We know the story about Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Cosworth and we have a lot of meetings with the car makers, but for Renault today we do not want to change our position. I told Bernie and Jean Todt that today we are in the 'red zone' because we have no idea what will be the future for Renault."
Caubet claims that as well as the road car relevance issue with the move to four-cylinder 1.6-liter engines, any alteration to the rule change plans will lead to credibility issues for Renault's senior management.
"We don't want to lose the capability to manage F1, but if we do not stick with the new regulations or if the regulations change, we are losing control of the situation – and then it becomes a problem with the board. Things are more difficult.
"We want to understand who is managing the sport. The cost of Renault in F1 is around 100 million euros [$141m] and you cannot change direction just like that. We told Nissan what the future of F1 is like and we opened the door for Nissan and Infiniti to be in F1. [For them] it is a long-term strategy; it is not only branding for this year. They were following Renault for the new engine and today we don't know where we are.
"We don't want to have an open conflict. We don't want to use the media to open the conflict, but today we are in the red zone."
While Ferrari is wholly opposed to the concept of a 1.6-liter turbo engine, both Mercedes-Benz and Cosworth are open to the idea of the new power units but are worried about the cost implications and making it commercially viable.
When asked if Renault would pull out of F1 as an engine manufacturer if the 2013 rules are delayed, Caubet said: "The problem to delay is that in Renault if you say, 'OK, the new engine will arrive in 2015,' then the credibility will be zero. That is a key point.
"When you are changing like that each day, you can explain to the board that in December the new engine will be like that, and the following November it is 2015. The key point is credibility.
"We have spent $10 million on the new engine, we have 20 people working in Renault – and can you imagine sending them back?"