Renault confirms Lotus takeover

2016 F1 season

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Renault has confirmed its return as a full constructor in Formula One next year following its takeover of the Lotus team.

The announcement promises to secure the future of the team which ended 2015 with obvious financial problems.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said he had been faced with “two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave.”

“After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula One, starting 2016,” he explained. “The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge.”

More: Renault in F1: 1977 to 2002
However Ghosn sounded a note of caution that success might not come quickly for the manufacturer, which won the constructors’ championship in 2005 and 2006. “Our ambition is to win,” he said, “even if it will take some time.”

Renault powered Red Bull to consecutive championship successes between 2010 and 2013. However in announcing its comeback today the team noted “the payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited”.

“As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories,” it added. “The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.”

Renault said the work on its takeover of Lotus was now yet complete but they intend to finish it “in the shortest timeframe possible”.

“The principal contracts were signed on December 3rd, 2015,” it noted. “Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 Team have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.”

The French manufacturer sold its stake in the Enstone-based outfit at the end of 2009, though it continued to race under the Renault name until 2011, after which it became Lotus. Renault added it will provide further details about its plans for the team next month.

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Keith Collantine
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56 comments on “Renault confirms Lotus takeover”

  1. Renault have been contributing to F1 for so long that it almost wouldn’t feel like F1 without them so I’m glad to hear this news. Now sort those power units.

    1. Enstone + Renault are a great team. This really good news, for a while! Suddenly things looks brighter for F1. If only RBR would stop whining for not being nr 1, only performing constantly better than Ferrari and McLaren in the mid-90s.

      1. You are certainly right, things are looking pretty good. Just a few weeks ago we were facing the prospect of losing two Red Bull teams and Lotus was being locked out of their trailers. While major issues still persist, at least the presence of top flight teams is not one of them.

    2. @spawinte Well said!

      Let’s not forget Renault won the first ever “Grand Prix”, in 1906. Eat that Enzo! :)

  2. YAY!

  3. So I’m expecting Maldonado and Palmer are already looking for new teams for 2017 now? Surely under ‘comitting 100%’ falls getting a top line driver like Vandoorne, Magnussen or even Ocon already.

    1. Too right. Maybe this is Hülkenberg’s last big chance to get into race-winning machinery.

      1. @erikkennedy
        Implying that Renault will be race-winning machinery. I somehow doubt it; still good to have them back though.

    2. They won’t be in any hurry to get rid of Maldonado. Renault are trying to do this on the cheap (relatively speaking) and mostly using other people’s money. The PDVSA sponsorship is a very big chunk of that.

    3. Pastor won’t go anywhere. The reason this deal took so long is because Renault did not want to spend too much, they haggled to get historic bonus from Bernie, they are overcharging Red Bull for their engines and have two pay drivers.

      And it makes sense too. In this era of Formula 1, a team would prefer a Maldonado who brings 30 mn even though he may be a full second slower than a Alonso who takes 40 mn as the difference between cars is many times more than the difference between drivers.

    4. Not at all. The money Maldonado and Palmer brought in is currently paying for the development of next years car. Renault needs that money because they will be sticking as little of its own capital into the team as possible. Remeber it is a state owned subject and in a tug of war with unions and the government over what factories to close in France to save cost.

  4. Maldonado-Palmer … a dream line-up!

    1. I know! So sad to see Renault come back with such an uninspiring line-up.

      1. It’s the lineup Lotus picked just in case the deal fell through. You could do way worse for selling the seats than to sell them to guys who’ve actually won stuff, and since this will 99% likely be a transitional year with the intent to be contenders from 2017 onward, why not pile on the supplemental money this season until you can go after Alonso/Rosberg/Ricciardo/Vandoorne/whomever next season?

        Plus, this gives us the wonderful scenario of Factory Constructor Lead Driver, Pastor Maldonado. It’s like Christmas for 20 weekends.

      2. No worries, 2016 will be a build up year regardless who is driving.

    2. JB/Trulli was a less reputed line-up than Palmer/Maldonado. JB was 3rd on British F3 and Trulli won the German F3 champ and was on pole for Monaco’s f3 support race.

      1. But by then, Trulli had 5 years of F1 under his belt, Button had two, and both had really impressed at times at the F1 level in that time. Both were out of karting and through the junior formulae into F1 in two years, which is much more ideal than the eight years Maldonado needed or the ten of Palmer.

  5. If things don’t work out for Alonso at McLaren in 2016 I see a homecoming to Renault in 2017. Provided they are more competitive than McLaren of course.

    1. If things don’t work out for Fernando, I see retirement to go race Le Mans personally…

    2. Michael Brown
      4th December 2015, 15:02

      Followed by a return to Ferrari. One stint just isn’t enough.

  6. Good luck to them. Hopefully they are better at running a works team than they have been at building a decent PU.

  7. Mercedes or Renault engine for 2016 then? Too late to switch the chassis design to Renault from Mercedes?

    1. I’ve heard that they have been working around using the Renault engine for a while now.

    2. Toto did say Mercedes and Renault are partnering in business, so they did not want to break that relationship by providing Mercese engines to RBR. Maybe Renault is selling off their F1 engine manufacturing? It wouldn’t be too crazy if then Lotus/Renault would run Mercedes engines in 2016!

      1. @f1lauri Considering that having Renault powered Mercedes A-series cars, hasn’t troubled the status or sales of the german manufacturer, all bets are fine.

    3. Good question.

      Also, team name now Renault, and Lotus (in name only) retired once more?

      And, Renault livery for 2016?

  8. Bring back the blue and yellow :P It’d be nice to see some more colour on the grid

    1. Black n Blue15
      3rd December 2015, 22:39

      The Mild Seven livery was so striking, loved it.

  9. Second good news in December. After giving decisive power to Todt and Ecclestone, the Renault works team is back! Shame about Pirelli’s complicated rules but it is still 2 to 1. I hope they will sort out the PUs for 2017!

  10. So if in 2016 their PU remains as amazing as their 2015 PU, will they be able to compete with Manor?
    I sort of liken this news to saying goodbye to Lotus and welcoming Caterham back.

    1. Manor was 3-4 seconds slower than Lotus on average. Unless you’re assuming that the Mercedes engine is 2 seconds faster than both the old Ferrari and the new Renault engine (which in my opinion would be a grotesque exaggeration of an existing gap), I can’t picture Manor competing with anyone in 2016.

  11. Good ridance to the black and gold livery then. I’m not particularly fond of liveries that replicate former glories, specially those attached to sponsors, but being that it’s Renault’s racing colours, I wish next year we see a lovely white, yellow and black car for them.

    1. @fer-no65 Me too. The fake Lotus team didn’t even match the old livery right. The gold outlines the shape and sponsors on the 72E, it also makes up the JPS logo and the background for the number. Lines not stripes.

  12. Former glories? Black and gold is former sponsorship (in this case John Player Special.) The former “glory” — the British racing green, French blue, Belgian Yellow, German white — went out with sponsorship (and I’m very sentimental, remembering Vanwall, BRM, Lotus, Cooper, Brabham … ) Only Ferrari (Italian red) remain true to “former glories”, and even that is not totally traditional as it was the USA who were allocated red for the 1904 Gordon Bennett Cup, Italy only got it in 1907…

    1. @paul-a I guess that’s a reply to my post. I think that if a car livery can be so iconic and closely attached to an era, a team and even a driver, it’s a former glory for us fans. Sadly, some of these modern retro-looks stretch it out too far, often making those famous liveries wear out way too fast. Specially when they are painted on massive failures, like the british racing green with yellow and white stripes in the Caterhams or the black and gold Lotii of recent years.

  13. Now here’s some good news. Hopefully we’ll get a nice new livery, and some better drivers either in 2016 or 2017. Adam Cooper is reporting they’re investing €850m across 9 years, so some stability for the team is great considering how close they were to collapsing a few months ago.

    1. If that’s true it is certainly a respectable budget.

    2. 850M€ is less than 100million per year. That´s ahead of Sauber and Manor, but less than Toro Rosso or Force India. A reasonable works-team budget would be 300 million € per year. Ok, PDVSA will probably bring in another 30million, and some other sponsors will be there, too… but I still doubt that´s enough to be fighting at the front, which would be needed to get marketing-value back.

      1. I think the previous incarnation of the works Renault team managed to win their two WCC and WDC titles while spending less money than most of their direct competitors (IIRC they were spending something in the region of $300-400 million when other manufacturers had $500 million budgets), so I do wonder They were certainly getting more bang for their buck than Toyota got in the same era, to say the least.

        I’m glad to see the works Renault team back for several reasons. One is that this is undoubtedly the ‘real’ Renault (as opposed to ‘fake’ Lotus), another is that I’ve always felt that along with Honda, Renault is one of those manufacturers that seems to ‘get’ F1, something that I never felt the likes of Toyota, Ford (with Jaguar) or even BMW did. For 2016, I think the target has to be to at least maintain sixth place in the constructors championship, I’d say top five but this may prove difficult if McLaren-Honda get their act together (then again…)

        In terms of possible livery, something along the lines of the 2010 car would please me greatly. I absolutely loved that year’s yellow and black car. I liked the blue and yellow cars as well, but I think the blue was mostly because of Mild Seven, same with the orange and yellow on the, ahem, somewhat less aesthetically pleasing 2007-09 cars.

      2. Don’t forget that they are most likely to have got some deal with Bernie about prize money, and they seem to be squeezing red bull’s pockets with the new engine deal, so it probably works out to more than you’d expect

    3. I have seen reports that the deal @strontium mentions between Renault and Bernie is about 125 million USD /year (as a basis, regular prize money gets added) so that together with the 30 million they get from Red Bull for the “TAG-Heuer” engine, the 30-60 million from Total and the estimate of some 55-60 million from their drivers should add up to a solid budget @crammond.

  14. I have a certain belief that an underlying health problem for Formula one is that every team has to win to justify racing. Mercedes almost left for lack of success for an example.

    Formula one, would be far healthier if it was sustainable from an economic perspective. As it is now, the only way to justify it is if you can argue that the benefits to your image are worth the cost, this is true for both the teams and the circuits.

    Can we say with a straight face that is the case?

    1. I think the main problem is there being constructors aiming at taking profit out of it and wanting it to be sustainable. It would be healthy if they were selling cars to run F1, instead of running F1 to sell cars.

    2. While the economics of F1 are in shambles, manufacturers and suppliers will always have their reasons to leave. Look at Good Year, 1998 was hardly a bad point in the US economy, their brands were doing well and they had a lot of sporting success. Yet, they dropped out of F1. Renault quit as an engine supplier after 1997 too, despite winning 6 constructors and 5 drivers titles in the 6 years before. Then there’s odd cases from the early 90s with engine suppliers like Subaru, Porsche and Lamborghini entering the sport but never committing, harming Coloni, Footwork and Modena in the process. The current prices and economical environment prevent that kind of odd endeavours, which is probably a good thing, looking at the poor PR Honda and Renault have been getting from F1 this season.

      In this regard I believe it to be best for F1 teams to focus on creating partnerships with manufacturers, rather than being owned by them. Mercedes, aside from their threat quits around 2012, have done an excellent job at team ownership so far. But I don’t want F1 to go through another period like late 2008 to early 2010 again; with hundreds of jobs at stake, shoddy investment agencies and their consequences. I’m more excited for a potential Austin Martin – Force India deal than I am for Renault’s return as a works team. I much prefer the days of the late 90s, where smaller teams would have exclusive deals with manufacturers still, and sponsorship deals over team ownership. (Though admittedly that didn’t quite work in the Modena/Lamborghini case)

  15. Regardless of personal preferences, this is great news.
    By returning as a full works team, we have more commitement so less risks of loosing a team (Team Enstone) and even if the engines are not the best, it is still one option that teams have (for me the more different engines the better).
    I hope that with this commitment they can also improve the engine and having their own team might help in fine tuning it.

    I do not expect much from next year, they will surely try to go for reliability more than performance but in 2017 they should be fighting for podiums or even some wins, like in 2012 and 2013.

  16. Fantastic!

  17. I am surprised to see everyone writing off the driver lineup of Maldonado and Palmer so quickly. I think the driver lineup is the least of Renaults problems taking on the Enstone team. No doubt they have severe haemoraging of staff who couldn’t hang around within the uncertainty, along with the backlog of debtors, who no doubt will be lining up to collect. Back onto my point though, I think Maldonado has had a pretty solid year, yes he’s had some issues, and yes his reputation preceeds him, however, he does some have pace in him. Joylan Palmer, may only be starting out his F1 career, but the man is switched on, listening to him in the commentary for GP2 and F1 for Sky, he really does understand what is required to be an F1 driver… He was no slouch in GP2, so I think this driver lineup is probably far better than the Haas lineup of Guita-ishestillaround-res, and Gro-boring-jean.

    1. I think a bigger problem than staff might be development. You need staff to develop, but between Grosjean saying they barely even developed the 2015 car and the deal taking so long to finalize, with money being tight, I can’t imagine the 2016 car has seen amazing development so far. I think Mercedes has shown between 2010 and 2012 that staff can be rehired, but a poor car can do a lot to set back a team.

      The idea that the 2016 car might not be amazingly good, combined with Renault’s PU problems in 2015, it wouldn’t matter if Maldonado and Palmer were Hulkenberg and Vandoorne, it’s a reformed team with an unknown in terms of PU and chassis, it’s hard to get excited about from a results perspective.

      But Maldonado and Palmer simply aren’t exciting prospects. F1 fans have, especially with careers getting longer and longer, little patience for a driver like Maldonado. He’s improved from his antics back when he just started and arguably wasn’t responsible for most of the crashes he was involved in this season, but still looked to be far from Grosjean’s pace and consistency most races. He’s quick, but regardless of who’s to blame, crashing costs a lot of points. In the end, it’s the points you score that matter. As for Palmer, I don’t think people on here are mean-spirited when it comes to negating his chances, but taking so long to win the GP2 championship, without ever showing anything phenomenal makes a driver less impressive. I don’t think people are diminishing his racing, they’re just not excited about him.

  18. WheeledWarrior
    4th December 2015, 9:35

    Bring back the 2010 yellow/black please. Awesome livery and car that year!

    1. Seconded for best Renault livery.

  19. Do they go from 7-time constructors’ champions back to being just two-time winners?
    Or 3 if you include the Benetton one (they had 3 stars on the Lotus cars for this)
    Is it even worth keeping records any more?!

    1. I don’t think it is.

  20. This is good news. Hopefully the first shot in the arm for F1’s recovery.

    I’m glad that the embarrassing RBR Renault spat has been resolved also.

    All of a sudden, the grid looks healthy. I don’t think we can expect too much in terms of the front runners being challenged, but the midfield looks like it might be quite competitive in 2016.

    Who knows, after a couple of years and the right investment, Renault/Enstone might be challengers again.

    Positive news indeed!

  21. how about this crazy idea: Alonso to switch to Renault in 2017 and finish his career with them! After they dump crashanaldo after next season lol

  22. Too bad that Lotus is going, 2 more cars would have been nice for F1 !

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