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Renault confirms it is buying Lotus

2015 F1 season

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Renault has publicly confirmed its intention to purchase the Lotus F1 team after announcing it had signed a Letter of Intent.

A statement released on Monday confirmed the French car manufacturer has signed a letter declaring a “potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd”.

Renault intends to take over the team from next year and return to F1 as a full constructor.

The release of the statement today comes as Lotus returns to the High Court where it is facing a claim for £900,000 in unpaid taxes from HM Revenue and Customs.

Renault previously competed in F1 between 1977 and 1985, and again between 2002 and 2011, winning the constructors’ championship in 2005 and 2006. It pulled its backing in 2009 but the team continued to compete as Renault for two more seasons before rebranding as Lotus.

Renault statement on purchase of Lotus

Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a Letter of Intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.

The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault’s first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to world’s premier motorsport championship series.

Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties.

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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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109 comments on “Renault confirms it is buying Lotus”

  1. Finally something official. Good to know McLaren will have someone to compete with next season.

    1. Imagine Helmut Marko would have said that publicly.. omg..

    2. Speaking of official. Has anyone seen the official Hammertime trailer?

    3. Actually I’d like to see Renault delivering a competitive PU for 2016, that would make Marko sweat :)

      1. That would be brilliant if they ended up with the best PU. Red Bull would be demanding that their contract was still valid and that they should have a better Renault PU than the works team etc. :D

        It would almost be as perfect as when Honda decided to pull out last time and gave the team to Ross Brawn throwing away what would have been their first and only Constructors title!

        1. I think Red Bull’s decision to terminate the contract is fueling Renault’s will to stay in F1, it’s a matter of honor now.

          1. That’s what I’m seeing. I think they sold to Lotus so they could focus on Red Bull as the works team, probably at Red Bull’s insistence. But since that didn’t work out and they want to be in F1, it makes sense to take the team back.

        2. If they did indeed end up with a brilliant 2016 unit, it would only go to show that Renault have been holding back from their ‘works’ and only customer. So many people are praising the return of a team that has gone to extremely dangerous and unethical lengths to win a Grand Prix, while demonising two teams that have revolutionised formula 1, made it possible for a mid team pack to work towards the front, heralded a new age of promotion within the business, and spent millions developing exciting new driving talents. I for one will be sad to see Red Bull leave if it comes to it.

        3. Oh that is so right.

    4. Woo hoo, the cheats are back! (That didn’t take long — just five years.)

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renault_Formula_One_crash_controversy

      1. To be fair, it was all Briatori’s and Alonso’s doing, but yeah, the cheats are back.

        1. Not just Briatore and Alonso, but Symonds, too. So… Only the team boss, chief engineer *and* number one driver, then. That’s the top three people in charge of their on-track racing, essentially.

          (And Alonso went completely unpunished. He didn’t even lose the points he gained in the race where the cheating happened, without which he would have finished two places lower in the Drivers’ Championship.)

    5. Personally I think Renault are nuts buying into F1 right now… They should invest in something exciting, like tiddly-winks

    1. It really is! (and it’s instant street cred for my Laguna haha).
      Now I just need a confirmation that Grosjean is staying, and not going to Haas, as speculated.

      1. That would be soooo good!

      2. Good news indeed but Grosjean has to move on and leave Lotus or Renault.

      3. Well it makes absolutely no sense for him to leave now.

        1. What about Maldonator?

          1. He is staying for another year. F1 is about money right now and he has a lot of it and nothing more. Literally nothing more.

      4. grosjean is gone!

  2. the first question i have is this….who will supply them with a competitive engine?

    1. Obviously the answer in 2016 is nobody, they will use their own.

      1. Previous reply went wrong… New attempt:
        That’s the joke

        1. I heard Honda was looking around? Honda-Renault, no?

          1. If they could just fuse those two engines together maybe they could compete ;)

      2. I think you missed the joke.

        1. Seriously…

        2. He should Readover the comment again.

  3. I think this may yet have a little more to play out. The intent makes it clear that this is for 2016, but Lotus still need to survive 2015. They’re still accumulating debt, and whilst HMRC might be put off once again by a future promise, that may not be the case elsewhere.

    It would be smarter, albeit wholly unfair to suppliers and debtors, for Lotus to go into administration at the end of the season, wipe off their debts and then start afresh with Renault.

    1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      28th September 2015, 10:21

      The problem with that scenario is that by doing so they will lose their ticket to compete in F1, and (the administrators of) Lotus have nothing to sell. @gregkingston
      Of course Bernie could give them an exemption (like he did with Manor), but I’m sure he’d rather see a less tarnished reputation of F1 and bills being paid!

      Also many suppliers who lose out will be less than willing to supply the new team, or only at inflated prices to offset their losses!

    2. I dont think thats a smart solution. Starting out as a worksteam by pissing on all suppliers and investors doesnt seem like a solid long time strategy to get to the top.

  4. They just hopefully need to work out how they can make sure that Maldonado is not one of their drivers now for 2016.
    He has paid enough for the announcement that he is the 2016 driver – but surely now they have the option to leave him out ?! The banks in Venezuela have done there job. :-)
    He would be an embarrassment and disappointment if he continues for Renault next year and I’m sure they have the same intelligence as Joe Public on this issue?
    Money surely only rules up to a certain point and then brains must take over.

    1. Isn’t Maldonado’s 2016 ride already being paid for? I think that’s the case, and if so, they’re pretty much stuck with him ’til 2017 — ask Sauber how signing 3 drivers for 2 seats goes.

      1. Maldonados contract is with Lotus F1 not Renault F1.

        I wonder what RoGro is thinking today?
        And what is Alonso thinking?

        1. If Alonso did go back to Renault, at least it would be a sure sign that next years McLaren will be competitive.

        2. You dont know what Maldonados contract is.

          1. No I don’t, but I can make an educated guess that it isn’t with a team that didn’t exist.

          2. That’s not how company acquisition works. If you got a brand new iPhone on a 2-year contract with Orange just before they merged with T-Mobile to become EE, you didn’t get to just walk away with the handset and pay no line rental just because EE “didn’t exist” when you signed the contract.

            Team Enstone will still exist after the acquisition just as it does now; Renault merely gain the right to control and name it. Maldonado may or may not have clauses that allow him or the team to cut the contract short without strings attached – and a change of ownership might even be a condition of some such clause – but if not then Maldonado is a contractual liability that Renault will acquire along with the team’s various assets (and, I dare say, a fair few other liabilities).

          3. All the balls are in Renaults court though.
            Surely if they dont want Maldo, they can just make Lotus voiding this contract prior to sale a condition of the purchase?

          4. Ofc. Renault can force Lotus to tear the contract but it will cost them and in the end its Renault that will pay up for it so they might aswell just tear it themself if the wanna get rid of Maldonado. Its no problem to tear contracts for unwanted paydrivers just ask Monisha and Sauber for some quality consulting.

    2. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      28th September 2015, 10:27

      I’ve been critical of Maldonado in the past as well.
      But have a look at his Suzuka performance (and Montreal earlier this year); the guy can have decent races as well.

      1. Yeh but he is the opposite of reliable. He drives maybe 2-3good races a year and the rest is medioker to outright dangerous.

        1. Everyone complains about how boring F1 is these days. But imagine what it would be like without Pastor to liven up the procession. He’s an essential asset!

      2. I’m not really sure two examples suffice to justify his long record of DNFs (agreed not all his fault).

      3. He won the Spanish GP in 2012 from pole position. Qualified 2nd but started P1, led the entire race. He can drive well, he can drive absolutely brilliant races. His lows are very low and very common, his highs are very high but very rare.

        1. If I remember correctly he did not lead the whole race. And his win was a perfect set of circumstances to begin with Hamilton his exclusion for qualy.

    3. I doubt Lotus did sign the contract for 2016 without Renault’s permission, the 50M (minus spare parts) is enough reason for them wanting to keep him.

      -speculation-
      My guess is that the other seat will be filled by Kvyat, he is tied with Renault as his main sponsor is owned by Renault and he is still not confirmed for 2016 by Red Bull and he could be part of a divorce agreement between Renault and Red Bull and seemed preoccupied this weekend going all over the place. All speculation of course.

      1. If I was Renault – my letter of intent would make sure that Maldonado is NOT included.
        The guy is a liability – similar to Massa – who to me is also like a spoiled child that throws all the toys out of the pram is he does not get what he wants.
        Lets face it – what would the administrators do if Lotus were to go bankrupt. Are they going to ignore Renault’s requests to take over the team without Maldonado?
        Otherwise let them go bankrupt – and then buy them at an auction with free options on drivers.

        1. Agree on Massa!

          But since Renault won’t be a contender until they sort out their PU I bet they love to use Pastor’s and say Kvyat’s money to keep the team running.

        2. I guess you have worked alongside with Massa, and of course know better than Sir Frank, Williams’ management and Ferrari’s management. @Kirk @Sander

          This ” liability ” contributed 2 WCC for Ferrari significantly, helped his teammates and Ferrari on plenty of occasions in 8 years. The ” liability “, on his day, is capable of outracing Schumacher and Alonso.

          “throws all the toys out of the pram if he does not get what he wants”
          Give me ONE example!@Kirk @Sander Or stop insulting
          When Alonso came, he did not get what he wanted, then he did anything like “throws all the toys out of the pram”???
          What he did or said after 2010 German GP?
          What he did or said after knowing the seal on his gearbox had been broken by his team?

          Had we heard any thing bad about Massa from his former colleagues?
          He is Latin, sometimes his emotion slightly gets the better of himself. It’s as simple as that.

          1. Oh just relax, this was not about his racing skills. I just do not like people who have a tendency to complain, they are annoying, unproductive and to me are a liability.

            To others like Frank Williams, who I do respect for being the opposite of Massa, it may not be a liability.

            Something called personal opinion, learn to live with it that not everyone likes the same people you do.

    4. Given they already will lose Grosjean to Haas, keeping Maldonado for 2016 and hiring Vergne seems the smartest option.

      1. Well – to add another angle to the conversation.
        What if Red Bull pulls out altogether. That would leave us with 4 extra drivers.
        Ricardo – Kvyat – Verstappen en Sainz.
        What will happen to those guys?

        1. What if.. and in case no one buys either or both of the Red Bull teams:

          – Ricciardo to Ferrari and replace Raikkonen, might even be a clause in his 2016 contract.
          – Kvyat to Renault.
          – Verstappen to Manor (Mercedes).
          – Sainz to GP2 or maybe Haas (Ferrari) if they are looking for extra money (CEPSA).

          If there is a 3rd car for 2016:

          – Ricciardo to Ferrari
          – Kvyat to Renault
          – Verstappen to Mercedes
          – Sainz to Renault

      2. The reason Grosjean left is more likely because Renault is moving in, they don’t go well together.

        And hiring Vergne could be an option, he is French has some experience but not sure if he has any money, seeing how Renault is squeezing everything out of Lotus before they acquire them does not seem they are prepared to go all the way and look for pay drivers the first few years so they can sort out business.

    5. I’m surprised no-one’s been talking of Ocon, Gasly or Vaxiviere yet, any of them could probably step up for 2017.

      1. @george Ocon is staunchly Mercedes property, and could yet turn up at Manor yet, and Vaxiviere is much to unproven to parachute into such a premium drive.

        Gasly and Vergne are the two possibles, and since Maldonado will likely be in the other car, Renault will need an experienced and proven talent in the other car, which would be JEV.

        But, as we have seen with Haas, F1 teams don’t make a habit of being nationalistic. Purely because he is the best candidate available to them, and because he’s been discreetly undercut by Vandoorne in McLaren’s junior hierarchy, I wouldn’t rule out seeing Magnussen at Renault. Unless both McLaren drivers walk, KMag’s two options for an F1 drive in 2016, McLaren and Haas, have failed him. Certainly, if Total cannot reconcile the prospect of one of Renault’s drivers being backed by a major rival, then the sidelined Dane will undoubtedly be at the top of their list.

        1. @countrygent
          I was assuming Maldonado would be leaving at the end of next year. Renault have a track record of signing drivers out of the feeder ranks with Kovy/Piquet jr/Grosjean. Obviously a lot would depend on their performance next year, too.

  5. What’s the bet that next year Renault will have an extra 100 HP. ;)

    1. and Maldo front running..

    2. I bet they have them already ;-)

  6. Curious the FIA has posted Renault’s statement on its website. Shows they’re keen for it to happen.

    1. I am sure they have already prepared the statement for the RBR + Ferrari deal as well.

      1. I hope you’re right because I’m not that optimistic.

        1. I am only saying they already prepared the statement since they are for sure as eager to confirm this as the Renault + Lotus deal, that doesn’t mean I am sure that it will happen, although I hope as well.

  7. How much was Renault’s say in Red Bull ???

  8. ‘Intention’, ;Possibility’, so I’m guessing Lotus will have to work hard to get every dime out of it as Renault is looking for a cheap buy in.

  9. But i still dont understand why is maldonado already confirmed? Surely money isnt such a problem for renault?

    1. Me neither, but I think the reason must be that he knows the team, and the car, and the history.
      The money will still be a huge factor, because as we all know; just because some people have enough money, they still want even more.

    2. I don’t think it harms Renault much either if they got Pastor in their fleet. He’s fast and paying handsomely.
      His money can cover parts replacement and potential prize money losses as well. A year is enough for Renault to evaulate and see Pastor’s contract out and thus look for better choice afterwards.

    3. They are stuck with each other because he had a 3 year deal. Maldonado can’t leave because his sponsor can’t pay again two teams at the same time like it did when he left Williams and the team can’t fire him without paying a huge compensation for the contract.

  10. Just noticed Renault has announced its potential return to F1 seven years to the day since the notorious incident which contributed to its last departure

    1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      28th September 2015, 11:10

      Seven Year Itch

    2. Watch out Disney is going to want to make a princess movie about it.

    3. 7 years ago Nelson Piquet Junior breaks a mirror in Flavio Briatore’s motorhome, and once the bad luck washed over the team….

  11. A “letter of intent” is no guarantee that a deal is going to be done.

    In my experience (sorry, I can’t divulge the name of the law company I work for) only one in five letters of intent eventually leads to a deal being finalised.

    1. Then maybe you have already delivered the answer why the FIA was so eager to post this, so they can at least add a little pressure to make this the one out of five.

    2. In my experience in (name of law firm) the ones that get made public have a far bigger chance of being finalised.

    3. Yep, sounds right. If you can sign a contract you sign a contract, then you can get to work.

      A letter of intent means you don’t have everything in place for a contract, and generally that means there are specific obstacles.

      So I don’t think this is a development at all, really.

  12. Will Renault complain about the Renault engine?

    What if they cannot improve the power plant? How’s that going to work for the company?

    1. No but Marko will if they magically produce a competitive PU next year.

    2. They still have ALL their 2015 tokens. Enough to redesign to power unit entirely before 2016. They will then have the 2016 tokens available. It is not logical to speculate that Renault, with all of it’s innovative history in F1 engineering, will NOT improve dramatically. In fact their entire strategy this season seems to have hinged on the potential acquisition of a race team and the saving of PU tokens for their own use, not customer teams.

    3. Don’t worry, they’ll improve.

  13. Alonso to Renault, winning a 3rd title for them! Why not – it’s a writer’s dream and Pastor’s contribution would be paying his salary! Let the silly season rumors restart!

    1. So his “GP2” remarks are just the start to a well calculated behaviour to be finally thrown out by Honda and sign up at Renault, since there is no other way to exit the contract. ;)

    2. Good thinking! No one will suspicious if Maldonado crash to bring safety cars every now and then.

      1. ResultantAsteroid
        28th September 2015, 13:22

        That cracked me up man … you are rt. It would be just “business as usual” :-PPP

      2. That would a really long con. Hats off to Maldonado for his discipline in the scam.

  14. Yet to read some conspiracy theories! Here we go:

    Renault wanted to return to F1 as a constructor as they were spending a lot and not getting enough exposure via Red Bull. But they had a works-like contract with them, that stated that they cannot do that. To beat that, they supplied Red Bull with mediocre engines for two years, in order to force them out, while next year they will run their secret super engine, that they’ve been developing for all those years!

    Imagine next year the new Renault team to be faster than Red Bull with Ferrari customer power units. It would be fun to listen to Horner’s comments, wouldn’t it? :)

    1. As a serious side note: If that actually was the case then I hope people would be so fair to rethink their opinion about RBR, because then obviously RBR was not the villain in the last two years or at least not the only one… ;)

    2. Even if they have some super engine plans they expect to show i doubt they will be doing that great since they left Lotus with no cash flow for a long of time now and they ain’t doing much work ether for this year or the next. Therefore the car won’t be that great even if the engine is.

  15. Here’s a thought I’ve been mulling over, perhaps you F1Fanatics can enlighten me…

    Flavio Braitore received a lifetime ban from the FIA after crashgate, but this was only in an FIA kangaroo court, and not in any recognised national or international court (to my knowledge).

    What’s to stop Flavio challenging this ruling, and coming back to spearhead this Renault revivial?

    1. ColdFly F1 - @coldfly (@)
      28th September 2015, 13:17

      Actually his ban was overturned in a French court, and no longer valid. @fullcoursecaution
      Afterwards FIA and Bria come to some kind of agreement, which I believe is confidential. He only stated then that he would not return to F1 (but we’ve seen promises broken before).

    2. Hey that would be good for Pastor – he at least will have reasons to crash the car then :-)

    3. Nothing at all, just the same as Ron Dennis promised to leave F1 after being caught cheating, and then came back. And Ron’s not the only one “banned” from F1 who then came back as soon as the scandal died down. Letting cheaters continue as soon as the public forgets is just the F1 way.

  16. i tought Renault was hodling out to see if the could buy out Reb Bull, but i guess that ship has left.

    1. They still could, get the aero department of RBR and make one team the F1 acadamy of young drivers.

  17. 1) Funding from Renault Takeover – Check
    2) Lots of money from PDVSA thanks to a sub par #2 driver – Check
    3) Pay PDVSA and Renault money to get Alonso back – Still Pending (but hoping that they are working on it)

  18. There’s a side to this that I’m not sure has been discussed here, and that’s the emotional connection of Enstone to Formula 1, and the strong ties the Renault guys will still have with the team that was once their’s and probably feel a bit of guilt knowing that they ditched the engines in favour of the Mercedes they run now.

    Formula 1 “teams” have really been more about the people running them and the way those outfits operate than who pays the bill or puts their name on the car. Nearly every team has it’s roots in a previous team, with only really McLaren and Ferrari having the real manufacturer ties from birth to present day. Even Sauber and Williams have always been partners and have had very real danger of leaving at points throughout their history, where I personally see McLaren and Ferrari as the two that will hold on longer, as they are real manufacturers in their own right. You could argue Mercedes have this same deal, particularly with the 50’s competetion they put in, but that team is the Brackley team, the BrawnGP team, the BAR Honda team, the Tyrell Team… When Honda pulled out at the end of 2008, there was no way that factory, that production facility, those people, would ever stop making formula 1 cars. If Ross Brawn hadn’t stepped in, it would have been someone else doing what he did, even if they didn’t go on to win more championships with Button and now Hamilton.

    What I’m getting at is that Enstone is perhaps to Renault what Grove is to Williams, what Hinwil is to Sauber, what Silverstone is to Force India (née Spyker, Midland, Jordan)… the list goes on.

    Their political standpoint, with relation to the very public bashing of their engines by RBR, and all the fallout we see around it, along with which drivers will be there and whether they’ll be real frontrunners like ’06 and ’07 is actually irrelevant, this is more about history, emotion, engineering and keeping the sport alive and closest to it’s real roots. This is about Renault coming home and being back on the grid as themselves once more, to stand up to Ferrari and Mercedes in their own right, and good on ’em! They’re not stupid, they know how difficult it is to cut it at the highest level, and would not be doing this unless it was right for Renault as a company, but there’s a reason they are choosing now, and that’s because Enstone is the only place they would return to, and this is an opportunity not to be missed.

  19. 1 further point to weave into the conspiracies, VWs fall from grace may be the beginning of the end for diesel cars, the emphasis in future may be on petrol-electric hybrids once more. Good timing or what?

    1. Sad – because this probably means that VW definitely will not entertain F1.
      One less possible constructor – but maybe Audi – they would have joined years ago if it had not been for the fact they can’t stand Bernie Ecclestone.

  20. being that Renault sold the Enstone factory to Genii, presumably for a decent price, and are now buying back the exact same facility when it is threatened with administration / liquidation / whateverotherlegalation… does this mean renault have made a profit on NOT running the factory. just a thought.

    1. They did not sell it at a decent price at all. They sold very cheap and even gave some of the funding for the first year. No way they are making profit.

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