Concerns grow that Renault could follow BMW out of F1

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The Independent Online

Fears now surround Renault's future in Formula One after BMW Sauber yesterday confirmed they will be pulling out of the sport at the end of the season.

The FIA made it clear the team's withdrawal could have been avoided if they had been allowed to implement planned cost cuts, and then fuelled rumours suggesting another manufacturer could follow. Toyota and Mercedes-Benz have confirmed they are to remain in F1 in light of new financial restrictions due to come into force, leaving the fate of Renault uncertain.

Although Toyota's future has long been the centre of speculation, a company spokesman said: "Through cost reduction we will continue our Formula One activities. Our situation remains unchanged."

Renault, though, are facing a major shortfall in their budget as primary sponsors ING are pulling out after this season.

BMW Sauber could yet return to private hands as former owner Peter Sauber still holds a 20 per cent stake after selling the team to the German giants in 2005. Sauber, though, has been left reeling by yesterday's news saying: "I respect and accept the decision, but am still finding it hard to digest. The position we are in now makes it very difficult."

The Formula One Teams' Association have offered their full support to get the team back on its feet, just as the body helped Brawn GP on to the grid after Honda's demise in December.

Fota secretary general Simone Perillo said: "Fota teams have consulted each other and are ready to assure all the necessary support to continue Renault's involvement in F1."