Sep.25 (GMM) As Renault assesses the damage to its image and counts the fleeing sponsors, David Richards has entered the frame as the crash-gate scandal rolls on.
Media reports, including by the German news agency SID as well as the British broadcaster BBC, claim the Prodrive and Aston Martin chief Richards may be waiting in the wings to take over the French squad.BBC claimed that the Briton, who was team principal for a time in the Benetton days at the end of the 90s, may be willing to buy the team for $50 million USD.Germany's SID, meanwhile, said the 57-year-old met recently with Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Frankfurt motor show, and also visited the team's British headquarters.Taking over from the ousted and banned former team boss Flavio Briatore as of this weekend as managing director is Jean-Francois Caubet, previously Renault's communications and marketing chief.He admitted in Singapore that Renault had erred during the Briatore reign in steadily losing "the Renault culture"."We don't want to make the same mistakes that have come about by letting the team have 100 per cent autonomy," said Caubet.He would not comment on speculation that the current new management structure, with Bob Bell the acting team boss, is merely a stepping stone to Alain Prost taking up the job full time."I have no comment to make on the names that have been put forward," said Caubet. "We will look for someone when the responsibilities of the role have been finalised. That could be in December or in January."He also insisted that Renault is not shaping up to simply walk away from the sport, despite the damage inflicted by the crash-gate scandal."During these last few weeks, when we accepted that we were guilty, we have had two decisions to take. Either we would not cross the fire or we would. We finished by crossing," he explained."We came out heavily burnt, this is true, and the image of the team has been hurt. We have had very bad coverage in the world's press for the last two weeks, but we have crossed the fire and we are going ahead."Today it's business as usual without asking questions. We are nevertheless still in a difficult situation as ING has departed, sponsorship and finances are difficult, and there are decisions over the business model of F1 in the longer term."These are serious questions which we must address and find answers," Caubet added.