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GP Week : Issue 65
t THE Renault F1 team took a further blow in the immediate aftermath of its two- year suspended ban from Formula 1 last week, when two of the team's primary sponsors pulled the plug on their deals with immediate e ect. Citing breach of contract, title sponsor ING and Spanish insurance firm Mutua Madrilena pulled their logos from the Renault F1 team cars before running began at the Singapore Grand Prix. ING was due to cease its sponsorship of the Renault F1 Team at the end of the 2009 season anyway, but Mutua Madrilena, which has held an association with Fernando Alonso for many years, may have seen this as a golden opportunity to leave themselves open to negotiate with Ferrari and continue their relationship with Alonso into 2010. While such moves will doubtless impact the finances of the Renault F1 team, the departure of the team's title sponsor will also adversely affect ING itself via its reduced exposure in the final four races of the 2009 season. According to research published by Margaux Matrix, ING's overall media value for its Renault sponsorship for the first 13 races of this season was €48 million. As such ING stands to lose €8 million in media value over the final four races of 2009. The company announced that its trackside advertising would continue until the end of the season. Margaux Matrix believes that ING's trackside advertising during the first 13 races of 2009 totalled €84 million compared to €75 million throughout the entire 2008 season. However perhaps the greatest irony of all is that, despite its noble gesture in choosing its protect its brand values by severing links with Renault, this entire "crashgate scandal" actually increased ING's return on investment. James Gibson, sales director of Margaux Matrix, said: "Ironically, by crashing one car and winning last year's Singapore race with the other car, the team generated €6.5 million of exposure value, or 13.5 per cent of the entire team value in 2008." Renault loses title sponsor RENAULT'S new interim Managing Director Jean- Francois Caubet, has described his team's current situation as like walking through re, as the disgraced out t attempts to rebuild its tarnished image in the eyes of its sponsors and the sport's fans. "Faced with this affair we had a choice," he told the French media in Singapore, "to stop or to walk through the fire. We decided to walk through the fire and we're coming out pretty burnt, because the image of the brand has been extremely badly damaged. "If we had wanted to stop F1, we would have done it sooner, to spare ourselves from all of that. More than words, we are speaking through our actions. Whether it be in the development of drivers, the engine supply side or the engagement in our car for 2010, which is almost done. "What is impressive is the coherence of the team. There were many tensions and they are still there, because we are asking ourselves a lot of questions; ING is leaving us, the money is difficult; and what is the future of Alonso and of the business model for F1" Caubet stated that the best way forward for Renault now was to go back to its roots and to rediscover itself, admitting that the manner in which Flavio Briatore had run the team had left it susceptible to a shift far removed from the company's brand values. "This team has to rediscover the Renault culture," he continued. "It's lost it a bit and it will be important to rediscover it. We have to rebuild links with the Renault base and on the ethical plan renew a respectful culture towards the rules and the sporting spirit. Beyond that we need to know what will be the tools which will permit us to manage the team in an efficient manner. "We don't want to fall back into ways of the 1980s when the corporate side ran the race team, but we also do not want to reproduce the errors which have been made in leaving the team too much autonomy. We give ourselves four months to find a good compromise, the right level of autonomy." Renault "walking through fire" F1 NEWS >> 7