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Renault echoes Ferrari pullout threat

FORMER champion Renault followed Ferrari's lead yesterday and threatened to quit Formula One at the end of the season unless the governing body rewrites the 2010 rules.

"If the decisions announced by the (FIA) World Council on the 29th of April 2009 are not revised, we have no choice but to withdraw from the FIA Formula One World Championship at the end of 2009," team boss Flavio Briatore said in a statement.

Champion Ferrari, Formula One's glamour team which has competed in every championship since 1950, issued a similar threat on Tuesday in response to the introduction of an optional 40 million pound (US$60.68 million) budget cap.

Toyota and the two Red Bull-owned teams have also said they cannot enter what would amount to a two-tier championship, meaning that half of the sport's 10 existing teams have now threatened to leave.

The teams' stance has raised the stakes considerably in a war of words with the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA), led by Max Mosley.

Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and the teams are scheduled to meet the Briton and Formula One's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone at a hotel near London's Heathrow Airport tomorrow.

"I hope common sense will prevail because the last thing we want to do is lose any of the manufacturers or teams currently in Formula One," Ecclestone, who has said Formula One and Ferrari need each other, told the Times newspaper.

Under the 2010 regulations, those teams accepting the cap would have far greater technical freedom than those continuing with unlimited budgets in order to level the playing field and encourage new entrants.

Teams can opt out of the budget cap but must adhere to the current regulations. Those teams agreeing to the cap will be allowed a more powerful engine and aerodynamic aids, both of which should considerably boost performance.

Renault, champion with Spaniard Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006, said it had been forced to reconsider because of the risk of a two-tier series.

The French manufacturer also expressed frustration that the FIA had "completely ignored" the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA)'s own cost-saving proposals.

"Our aim is to reduce costs while maintaining the high standards that make Formula One one of the most prestigious brands on the market," said Briatore.

"We want to achieve this in a coordinated manner with the regulatory and commercial bodies, and we refuse to accept unilateral governance handed out by the FIA."

Renault Team President Bernard Rey added that the manufacturer remained committed to the sport but could not be involved "in a championship operating with different sets of rules.

"If such rules are put into effect, we will be forced to pull out at the end of this season," he added.

Ferrari has won the constructors' championship eight of the last 10 seasons, with Renault winning the other two.

Renault, which won the constructors' championship in 2005 and 2006, is second to newcomer Brawn GP, formerly Honda, after five races this season.


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