The French automaker has been an almost constant fixture on the Formula One grid since 1977 when it launched its first team. It reverted to supplying engines in 1986, missing only a couple of seasons here and there until it took over the Benetton team in 2002, winning back-to-back world championships in 2005 and 2006 before selling the team to Genii Capital which rebranded it as Lotus in 2011. It's been powering Red Bull since 2007 (among other teams), winning four world titles in a row. But that winning form has dropped off dramatically since the introduction of the new hybrid turbocharged V6 engines that have seen Mercedes take the place of dominance at the front of the pack and the top of the podium.
With Renault and Red Bull trading accusations, the latter has made no secret of its desire to find another engine partner – which will probably not happen before the end of next season when their engine-supply contract expires. At that point, the Austrian team could buy its power units from Mercedes, Ferrari, or even Honda if the Japanese automaker manages to get its engines up to speed. One possibility recently suggested that the team could even partner with Aston Martin brokering a deal with Mercedes. One way or another, Red Bull has options – if it doesn't throw in the towel altogether. However, parting company with Renault would likely also mean losing Infiniti and Total as sponsors.
The bigger question is what Renault will do. It could, as the BBC points out in its latest analysis, continue as an engine supplier, withdraw from the sport entirely, or go all-in and run its own team again. Past rumors have linked the French company with a takeover of the Toro Rosso team and rebranding it as its own, but the more prevailing wisdom circulating the paddock at this point has it reacquiring the Lotus team from Genii. That investment firm has had difficulty making a go of it, both financially and in terms of performance, and could end up welcoming a buyout by the party from which it acquired the team in the first place.
Then again, a complete reassessment of its motorsport activities could be in store for Renault. Around 2009-10, BMW undertook such a rethink that saw it pull out of F1, Formula BMW, and the World Touring Car Championship, eventually shifting its focus to DTM to positive effect. Renault could be in store for a similar cleaning of house, withdrawing its support from Formula Renault 3.5, backing out of Formula One, and throwing its support behind newer series like Formula E and the upcoming Formula Two revival.