Lotus eager for Renault return after ‘lean year’

2015 F1 season

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It would be “fantastic” for Formula One if Renault were to return as a full manufacturer, Lotus’s team principal Federico Gastaldi has said.

The French manufacturer, which has participated in F1 as a car and engine manufacturer on and off since 1977, is exploring a takeover of the Enstone team, which competed as Renault between 2002 and 2011.

“It would be fantastic for the sport and a mega-positive note for Enstone to see their return,” said Gastaldi, “but until any deal is signed, sealed and delivered we keep focused on our current tasks.”

In the meantime Lotus has endured a trying season due to its financial difficulties. “Certainly this is a lean-running year and you wouldn’t want to attempt running much leaner,” Gastaldi admitted. “Thankfully we do have some fantastic partners, all of whom understand the situation and are tremendously supportive.”

“I need to clarify some misunderstanding too, all our sponsors and partners have paid on time and some even ahead of time. We’re certainly a pretty long way from being flush with money – unlike some of our rival teams – but we’ve done what has been necessary to make the team far more efficient and viable going forward.”

“Things have certainly been tight and we’ve embraced the Japanese just-in-time philosophy a little too literally on occasions,” he added. “All this has been necessary but we keep fighting the good fight. We believe in the team; we believe in Formula 1 and we believe we’ll still be here fighting for the rest of this season and beyond. Don’t believe any of the negative rumours you hear.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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23 comments on “Lotus eager for Renault return after ‘lean year’”

  1. If only Honda “embraced the Japanese just-in-time philosophy”!

    1. More importantly, both Honda and Lotus should be embracing the lessons of Demming regarding reliability, e.g. the 14 points of Management, quality management, etc.
      Looking at the F1Fanatic statistics for Retirements and Penalties, it seems to me Lotus have attracted a lot of penalities, which just makes beating the competition harder, and they have had lots of technical failures as well, meaning even the slowest cars beat them.

    2. To be fair to Honda, one engineer connected with Honda has revealed that the deal between Honda and McLaren was originally meant to start in 2016 – however, because Ron Dennis wished to cut his ties with Mercedes earlier than planned, he then forced Honda to fast track development of their engine by a year.

      To make matters worse, it seems that Prodromou also suddenly surprised Honda by suddenly imposing much stricter packaging requirements on Honda in late 2013, which forced them to redesign most of the ancillaries in order to meet his requirements.

      That’s not to say that all of Honda’s issues are excusable, but it should be said that some of their issues are a consequence of design decisions that McLaren imposed on Honda, so McLaren is not entirely without blame for the current situation.

      1. I thought I read that Podromou had little impact on the 2015 car. The axial flow compressor was definitely a compromise to meet packaging requirements, but are the motor generators just not big enough or are they overheating and thus unable to be deployed for an entire straight? It’s amazing to me since it’s not like an MGU-K is new.

        1. @wushumr2, whilst normally that would be the case, Red Bull agreed to allow Prodromou to join McLaren earlier than expected n return for McLaren dropping its case against Red Bull over Dan Fallows, Prodromou’s deputy at Red Bull. It seems that he was therefore able to exert some influence over the current car at the tail end of the year, leading to a reconfiguration of the rear bodywork and packaging constraints.

          As to why Honda are struggling, the suggestion is that Honda are struggling to extract a significant amount of energy from the MGU-H (the system that extracts waste energy from the turbines).

          The system that recovers energy from the braking phase – the MGU-K – is thought to be OK. What is causing the problem is the fact that, under the current regulations, there is no restriction in the flow of energy from the MGU-H to the MGU-K, which enables the teams to use the hybrid system around the entirety of the lap.

          That is thought to be linked to the fact that Honda had to compromise on the turbine design, adopting a more compact unit than they wanted – Honda had tried to compensate for this by adopting a turbine that could reach a maximum speed of 125,000rpm (the larger turbine used in the Mercedes engine is thought to peak at 100,000rpm), the maximum permitted under the regulations, in order to achieve a comparable mass flow, but have not been able to achieve that target due to problems with the bearings.

          Because the MGU-H is comparatively weak and there are limits on how much energy the MGU-K can collect per lap (not just in terms of the regulations, but simply in terms of the amount of energy that is also expended via the braking system), that is why Honda are unable to run their powertrain at full power around the full lap.

          It’s also why the McLaren-Honda team can work around those issues at slower and shorter tracks like Hungary or Monaco – because a comparatively short period of the lap is spent on full throttle and the straights are relatively short, there is less of a risk of the battery systems being depleted and therefore the overall powertrain can operate at closer to its maximum performance.

  2. No matter how you look at it, the whole team is highly unreliable. They wanted to challenge Williams this season…

  3. I wonder why they run out of money this seanson? Over-ambitious budget?

    1. In general Lotus seems extremely mismanaged, financially speaking. According to Forbes up to 2013 they were 200+M Euros in debt.
      While I have no doubt that would be a less if the FIA shared the revenue money more equally, that still left an insane amount of doubt. While it’s impossible to know the exact reasons for it, I assume it is the result of a team living way above their means in order to achieve results. Sadly, besides 2013, those results haven’t really came.

      1. The thing is, the team were already in financial trouble a number of years ago – Renault lost a number of sponsors after the “Crashgate” affair came to light in 2009 (they lost ING, their title sponsor, that year), so their sponsorship income was already shrinking before Genii took over.

        To make matters worse, the team then overspent in 2010 in an attempt to catch Mercedes in the WCC, whilst in 2011 Lopez admitted that the team overspent again when their front existing exhausts proved to be a dead end, but they wasted resources on developing a conventional rear existing exhaust that, although Heidfeld tested it and thought was clearly better, remained unraced because the team had sunk most of its resources into the front existing exhausts, not expecting its development potential to cap out as quickly as it did.

        The net result is that, for a number of years, the team was not using the resources it did have quite as efficiently as it could, whilst having the issues of very high overheads due to being the Renault works team and diminishing sponsorship due to public relations problems.

        Even with more money from FOM, the team would still be in fairly dire straights – this is a team that managed to make one of the largest losses ever recorded in the history of the sport (£53 million in 2013). People may mock Maldonado (though, to be honest, I think a lot of it is overblown), but without him the team would have been dead several years ago.

    2. Their parts spend was probably more than expected, thanks to a certain P. Maldonado.

    3. It’s not about running out of money. It’s about not spending more than you have.

    4. Genii Capital, the current owners of Team Enstone, always underfunded and overspent in the hope of attracting a buyer. This was basically a long time coming and, if Renault takes the team, has worked out the way they wanted to.

      1. it’ll happen, I know its no guarantee but its not a well kept secret that Renault is thinking of purchasing them. Renault would not leave the sport at this point. From what is being said, Red Bull seem to be moving away from Renault for 2016. That relationship is over.

        And with the “status” Renault is looking fro with Bernie to get extra money, they are trying to pay as little as need be for Lotus, why buy them when they are standing? Buy them when they are on their knees, you can get them for less. Renault seems to think the longer they wait to jump in the cheaper they can acquire Lotus for.

      2. ColdFly F1 (@)
        12th September 2015, 9:54

        has worked out the way they wanted to.

        I doubt that this comes even close to what Genii wanted. @klon
        Genii was less than genius when it bought the team, then put in more equity, and further funded the 100’s of millions of debt themselves. Lopez made the investment decision based on passion rather than smarts, and they continued the double up strategy for too long. This is not how a Venture Capital/Private Equity funds tends to make money (maybe they should take a leaf out of CVC’s book).

  4. Honestly, anything which gets this fake Lotus name off the grid is a positive.

    1. Hear, hear!

      I like the Enstone team, for their history and lately how funny they became with their press-releases and attitude, but the Lotus name is just silly!

  5. They are going to have Renault back. And this makes them believe they’ll be more competitive how exactly…?

    1. It’s not because they will have Renault power, it’S because they become, again, a manufacturer’s team, meaning much more stability for everyone. And also bigger chances of success than the current situation, where even though they have the better engine, they do not have enough money to challenge the big boys regularly…

    2. I’m quite sure Renault’s monies will help in that matter.

    3. Because they will have funds and they have a works team. Don’t underestimate the advantage of being a works team, and when Renault solves their PU issues, they will be one of the teams to watch out for.

      Hope this works out for them. I’d like to see Renault back on the grid, and hopefully Alonso driving for them.

    4. I wonder if Renault will opt for a Mercedes engine.

  6. World manufacturing shifted to Asian countries because they had cheap labour which reduced costs, maybe F1 needs cheap but efficient engineers from Asia or shift their teams there.

  7. Can’t stop laughing at either Renault or Lotus’ right now. Have they forgotten 2014 so quickly already? Both sides of this possible partnership?

    Neither of them showed up for Winter testing with anything even resembling a running package, and if it wasn’t for Red Bull saving Renault AND Lotus’ arse they wouldn’t even have had an engine to be racing…

    Lotus’ incompetence is why Renault decided to go with Red Bull for their #1 team, and since then they haven’t listened to any of Red Bull’s advice for how to improve their operations. There were tonnes of articles about this at the start of the season how Renault thinks Red Bull’s practices are inapplicable to engine development and just want to do things their own way instead…

    Which has worked oh so well for them. /s

    Either way good luck to them, I’d love to see them both turn it around for the sake of competition ofcourse (and hopefully give Lotus some money so they can drop Crashtor.)

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