Renault yanking support from Formula Renault 3.5 series

What would Formula Renault be without Renault? Competitors in the series are about to find out. Because according to Autosport, the French manufacturer is withdrawing support from the key feeder series.

The Formula Renault 3.5 Series is a vital step on the ladder for aspiring racing drivers. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Robert Kubica, Pastor Maldonado, and Heikki Kovalainen are just a few of the pilots who have made their mark in FR3.5 on their climb up to Formula One. Renault took over supporting the series in 2005 from sister-company Nissan, elevating it to the pinnacle of the World Series by Renault that also includes the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup and the Trophy series for touring cars that was previously based on racing versions of the M├ęgane before switching to the new RS.01 racer. However, after 11 years of backing the series, Renault Sport has reportedly informed the participating teams that it's pulling out.

That leaves the future of the series somewhat in doubt, but given its importance to the formula racing scene, it looks unlikely that it'll fold. Sources expect that Jaime Alguersuari Sr (father of the former F1 driver) could retake the reins through his organization RPM, having previously run the series when it was supported by Nissan. Most if not all of the teams currently competing in the series are expected to stay on, and the new organizers could even increase the prize money awarded to winning teams and drivers. Racing fans may note that when BMW withdrew its support, the Formula BMW series folded entirely, however that series had been founded by the automaker in the first place, whereas FR3.5 operated for several years before Renault stepped in, and will likely continue running for years to come.

The series is one of the top qualifiers for the FIA Super License required to compete in F1, awarding more points to its top performers than GP3, Formula 4, the World Touring Car Championship, or DTM. Only GP2, the European Formula Three Championship, the LMP1 category in the World Endurance Championship, and the forthcoming Formula Two series are worth more to aspiring F1 drivers by the FIA's points system. Regardless of who's running, sponsoring, or powering the series, the FIA is unlikely to reduce the number of points it allots to the top finishers in the championship. We'll be watching, however, to see who picks up the mantle.

As for Renault's involvement in formula racing, it remains instrumental in the new Formula E series, will likely continue with Formula Renault 1.6 and Formula Renault 2.0, and is tipped to participate in the forthcoming Formula Two revival. The French outfit's F1 racing program remains in doubt, however, as its partnership with Red Bull continues to unravel as its engines under-perform against the competition.

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