Date: 3rd April 2015 at 10:10am
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Could Red Bull Racing’s sister team Toro Rosso drop their Red Bull branding in favour of Renault livery?

French manufacturer Renault appear to be at a crossroads.

Renault have numerous Formula One titles to their name, they’ve won both the drivers and constructors championships as an engine supplier for Williams, Benetton and Red Bull Racing in the past and have also won both titles twice as a manufacturer in their own right.

Overall they have powered 11 Formula One World Champions to the title and taken 12 constructors titles, with over 160 Grand Prix wins making them one of the most successful engine suppliers in the history of Formula One.

But despite being just one year removed from one of their most dominant periods through their partnership with Red Bull Racing, Renault now find themselves under immense pressure.

Since the introduction of the new era of Formula One, with the aspirated v8 engines dumped in favour of v6 turbo-hybrid power Renault have been left behind by rivals Mercedes and Ferrari.

This despite being heavily involved in the talks regarding the new engine regulations from their inception and playing a major role in the development of the new Formula One regulations.

Red Bull powered by Renault won three Grand Prix with Daniel Ricciardo in 2014, but only once Mercedes had suffered problems.

In 2015 they appear to be even further adrift much to the frustration of Red Bull Racing, who have fired numerous criticisms at their French partners.

This criticism has left Renault contemplating their future in Formula One, a move which would leave Red Bull Racing and sister team Toro Rosso in limbo as neither Mercedes or Ferrari are likely to be keen to supply them with engines.

‘We are looking at a lot of options, including getting out of Formula 1 if it’s bad for Renault’s reputation,’ Managing Director of Renault Sport F1 Cyril Abiteboul said prior to the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Another option is the polar opposite, instead of pulling out of F1, Renault could invest more by purchasing a team, potentially Toro Rosso which appeared to be welcomed by Toro Rosso’s team principal Franz Tost: ‘To be owned by a manufacturer would be exactly the step forward which the team needs,’ he said whilst sitting next to Abiteboul in Malaysia.

That move would bring even further problems for Red Bull Racing as they, like McLaren did whilst using Mercedes engines would find themselves as a customer team and potentially at a disadvantage to their once smaller sister team.

In fact Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner suggested that such a move would ultimately force Red Bull out of Formula One altogether.

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko however has another idea.

He has suggested that Toro Rosso rebrand their team to Renault livery, giving Renault greater visibility within the sport but without selling the team out.

‘Renault are spending a lot of money on this power unit ? not as much as Mercedes but a significant amount ? and are confronted with the same issues that we (Red Bull) have: their F1 involvement has to pay off,’ Marko told Formula1.com.

‘Add to that that Renault feels under-represented on the marketing side so there are considerations to either buy Toro Rosso or more likely give them a yellow livery to have a better marketing platform.’