Renault Sport to withdraw its backing of Formula Renault 3.5

Renault Sport has informed Formula Renault 3.5 teams that its eleven-year backing of the category will cease at the end of this season

AUTOSPORT understands a revamped series is set to continue next year, and a meeting on its future will be held in Spain between the teams, Renault Sport and joint promoter RPM next Thursday.

Although several key decisions have yet to be taken, RPM boss Jaime Alguersuari Sr is favourite to retake the reins of the championship.

Alguersuari headed the organisation of the Open Fortuna by Nissan and World Series by Nissan championships between 1998 and 2004, before the category merged with the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup.

Renault's decision to discontinue is thought to stem from the arrival of the new FIA-backed Formula 2 series and marketing and commercial reasons.

Formula Renault 3.5 has been the headline category on the World Series by Renault package since 2005, running with the hugely successful Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and tin-top Megane Trophy series, which was replaced this year by the Renault Sport Trophy for GT-style RS.01 racers.

The World Series by Renault format is set to continue, and Renault Sport will focus its energies on the FR2.0 Eurocup and RS.01 Trophy.

While FR3.5 teams have acknowledged Renault's withdrawal is a blow, their outlook is bullish for the future.

To offset Renault's withdrawal, teams' proposals to RPM and Renault Sport next week are believed to include increased prize money for drivers in 2016 and a raise in the rev limit of the engines to increase performance.

Discussions are also set to include the Eurocup's relationship with FR3.5, as the Eurocup champion is currently awarded a €500,000 purse towards an FR3.5 budget

"All the teams have said they're continuing," one team boss told AUTOSPORT.

"Our proposals include awarding a €600,000 cash prize to the FR3.5 champion, either to be spent bridging the gap to a Formula 2 budget or to be spent on sportscars, while also awarding a €200,000 prize to FR3.5's top rookie, to keep him in the category.

"That had the teams' backing. We know the series works, and the interest is there from the driver market."

The FIA announced at its last World Motor Sport Council meeting on July 10 an increase in the number of Formula 1 super licence points awarded to the FR3.5 champion from a provisional 30 to 35.

Many Formula 1 drivers had called for the more generous points allocation, including four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel who competed for Carlin in the series during 2006 and 2007.

FR3.5 teams believe that the category's allocation of Formula 1 super licence points is safeguarded despite Renault's withdrawal, and one senior figure told AUTOSPORT 10 drivers have already committed to staying in the series.

Renault Sport did not submit an application to the FIA to run the new Formula 2 series because it believed the terms of the tender placed too great a commercial strain on the promoter.


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