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GP Week : Issue 57
> F1NEWS> Renault and the Russians THE future of Renault in Formula 1 remains unclear following BMW’s announcement that it is to leave the sport at the end of the current season. BMW’s departure would leave just four manufacturers in Formula 1, but while Mercedes, Ferrari and Toyota have all made public statements declaring their commitment to a future in F1, Renault as yet has failed to be so forthcoming. Although Renault has signed up to the new Concorde Agreement, rumours have also suggested that movements are underway for the French manufacturer to sell the team to a Russian investor. Rumours abound that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, who owns the Russian telecoms company MegaFon, is in talks with Renault over a takeover of the team. MegaFon signed up as a sponsor of the RenaultF1 Team at the 2009 Turkish Grand Prix. With Flavio Briatore expected to stay on as Team Principal in any potential takeover, GPWeek also understands that Russian GP2 racer Vitaly Petrov has been signed by the Italian, although at present it is unclear whether this deal is for the Russian’s management or whether Petrov has been signed to replace Romain Grosjean as Renault’s third driver. Following a war of words between Briatore and Nelson Piquet last week, Grosjean’s promotion to a race seat in place of the Brazilian now seems nighon a certainty. GPWeek understands that Grosjean took part in a straight-line test for Renault last week as part of his preparations for his F1 debut. As for Petrov, with a Russian investor waiting in the wings his signing makes a great deal of sense, as we expect him to fulfill his duties as Renault’s third driver for the rest of 2009 before potentially stepping up to making his F1 race debut alongside Grosjean, his 2009 GP2 teammate, in 2010.