Renault F1 team rocked as principal Vasseur abruptly leaves

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    A 2013 F1 V8 engine - the last season they will be seen (Image: Renault)

    A few weeks away from proudly unveiling their new car for the 2017 Formula One season, French manufacturer Renault now have to find a new team principal after the departure of Frederic Vasseur on Wednesday.

    Vasseur left his role after one season, with Renault saying the decision was by mutual consent. No further information was given as to who will replace the Frenchman, but Renault will give full details of their plans when the new car is unveiled on February 21 – the earliest confirmed date so far of any team.

    Until then, the team will be run by Renault Sport Racing’s president Jerome Stoll and managing director Cyril Abiteboul.

    Renault withdrew as a works’ team from the constructor world championship after the 2009 season, and made their comeback last year after agreeing to take over Lotus. Vasseur played a key part in the relaunch and rebuilding of the team.

    Renault finished a modest ninth in the constructors’ standings with Dane Kevin Magnussen scoring seven points and British driver Jolyon Palmer getting one.

    With new engineers set to come on board and experienced German driver Nico Hulkenberg joining from Force India, hopes were high for this year. Hulkenberg even spoke of his ambitions the day before Vasseur’s departure.

    “At Renault the next few years will be about turning a participant into a real contender – one that makes use of the advantages of a manufacturer in the best way possible to achieve the racing success of the past,” the 29-year-old Hulkenberg told the F1 website on Tuesday. “And believe me, we will.”

    But they will be without Vasseur, who has spoken of clear differences of opinion over strategy.

    “There was too much different vision in the management of the team, so it makes sense for me to leave,” Vasseur told Motorsport.com on Wednesday. “If you want to perform in F1, you need to have one leader in the team and one single way. If you have two different visions then the result is that the work inside the team is slow.”

    However, Renault are confident that Vasseur – who enjoyed success in the GP2 and GP3 series with the Art Grand Prix team – will take on a different role “sometime in the future.”

    © AP 2017

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