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Vatanen: 'Renault right to question F1 future'

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Ari Vatanen speaks to CNN
  • Ari Attendant has told CNN he thinks Renault would be "right to quit" F1
  • Renault held crisis talks in Paris on Wednesday to discuss F1 future
  • Vatanen blames "conflict, crisis and court cases" on constructors' fears
  • Ferrari blame FIA for "waging a war" on major car manufacturers

(CNN) -- Ari Vatanen, the recently defeated presidential candidate for world motorsport's governing body the FIA, has told CNN he thinks Renault would be "right to quit" Formula One.

Renault held crisis talks in Paris on Wednesday -- the same day that the world's biggest car maker, Toyota, confirmed they would be leaving F1 -- to discuss the team's future in the sport.

Renault experienced their worst end to the season since 2002, finishing in eighth place in the constructors' championship after Sunday's penultimate race in Abu Dhabi, and were rocked by the "Crashgate" scandal involving Nelson Piquet Jr's deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The French manufacturers announced on Thursday that they will make a decision on their future by the end of this year, and former World Rally champion Vatanen said he understood why constructors may have concerns about taking part in the 2010 Championship.

"If you analyze it Renault is right, they are a serious international corporation and not loonies like Max Mosley [former FIA president] has called them, they are just very disillusioned with the governance of Formula One," he said.

"[Renault] would stay in the FIA championship if the sport was known for positive news and if it was a good avenue for marketing and promotion -- but Formula One is only known for conflict, crisis and court cases recently, and big companies cannot afford that," Vatanen added.

The 57-year-old Finn also played down the current economic downturn as being the driving force behind three constructors leaving the sport in the last 11 months.

Formula One is only known for conflict, crisis and court cases recently, and big companies cannot afford that
--Ari Vatanen

"We must realize the economic realities is nothing to do with the crisis. Big companies always look to market and promote, even when times are tough, but only if it is in a sensible way.

"I do hope [Renault do not leave], but if they do it is the final alarm call that we cannot continue with business as usual. I'm sad to say the old guard are still in power in the FIA but teams are starting to vote with their feet," Vatanen added.

Formula One has been hit by the exits of Honda and Germany's BMW over the last year, both of whom cited the credit crunch as a reason for their withdrawals.

Ferrari, the only constructor to race in every Formula One world Championship, blamed the the governing body of the sport for "waging a war" against the major car manufacturers, in a statement on their official Web site.

"The reality is that this gradual defection from the F1 fold has more to do with a war waged against the major car manufacturers by those who managed Formula 1 over the past few years, than the result of any economic crisis," the statement read

The FIA issued a statement saying it would be in contact with Toyota to clarify the team's legal position, as the Japanese outfit had only recently signed the new Concorde Agreement to govern F1 until 2012.

"This will have a direct bearing on the admission of any future 13th entry," the FIA said.

"The FIA accepted the cost-reduction measures put forward by the teams on the basis that they would ensure a long-term commitment to the championship. Toyota's announcement demonstrates the importance of the original cost-reduction measures set out by the FIA.

"The FIA will now work to ensure that Toyota's departure is managed in the best interests of the championship, and will continue to encourage the F1 teams to undertake the necessary cost-cutting measures for the good of the sport."