Renault will walk away from Formula 1 if the rules surrounding in-season engine development don’t change, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has warned.
This season the four engine manufacturers were given the go-ahead to use some of their development tokens during the season after a loophole was discovered in the regulations by Renault and Ferrari.
However that loophole has been closed by the FIA for 2016 and beyond, meaning all tokens must be ‘spent’ before February 28th.
All but one manufacturer, Mercedes, is campaigning the FIA to re-open the loophole and to allow in-season development to allow them to close up to the dominant Mercedes.
If they don’t succeed, Horner warns Renault could turn its back on the sport, despite leading calls for F1 to switch from V8 engines to smaller turbo-V6 units.
“They [Mercedes] don’t have to [support a rule change] obviously, but the situation is it’s a precarious point in terms of Renault’s commitment to the future,” he told reporters including Grand Prix Times in the Canadian paddock.
“If you are effectively shutting that [development] down in February, you are almost waving goodbye to them.”
Horner says Mercedes must take into consideration what is best for the sport, rather than protecting its advantage, which could have a detrimental and lasting negative impact on the sport.
“Mercedes need to have a bit of a grown-up think about it, and the FIA as well, to say what is in the best interests of Formula 1.
“If Formula 1 can afford to lose an engine manufacturer, then stick to February 28.”
The Red Bull boss says it makes sense to allow token spend during the season, as come 2020, the engines are frozen for good, with changes only being permitted for reliability.
“From Renault’s perspective it is the worst thing for them as the engines are effectively frozen forever after,” he stated.
“Really, as these regulations still are relatively immature, it would make sense to allow – as this year – development to happen in season.”