Renault takeover of Lotus F1 is done deal

UPDATE: Official announcement Press Release

Renault announces return to Formula 1 in 2016

Thursday 3rd December

• Carlos Ghosn announces his decision that Renault will return to Formula 1 with its own team for 2016 season.

• Renault, 12-time Constructors’ Champion with nearly 40 years in the sport, is an iconic brand in Formula 1 and intends to play an active role in the sport’s development.

• F1 is a technology showcase and accelerates development of Renault’s innovation and range of sports cars.

Following the September announcement of the signing of a Letter of Intent with Lotus F1 Team, teams at Renault continued to evaluate the possibility of a return to Formula 1. Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016.

“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win–even if it will take some time,” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault.

As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low. 

Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015. 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.

Renault has had uninterrupted involvement in Formula 1 for almost 40 years. In 1977, it revolutionised the championship with the introduction of turbocharging, a technique that soon became the norm in the sport. Renault has since taken part in more than 600 grand prix, claiming 168 race wins, 12 Constructors’ titles and 11 Drivers’ crowns.

Renault’s decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand’s identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles. Passion defines Renault as expressed by its brand signature, ‘Passion for Life’. In addition to attracting many customers, Formula 1 also fuels employee motivation. As the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 demands technological and operational excellence. The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.

Formula 1 is a means for Renault to accelerate development and remain at the forefront of the sport’s technological progress. It simultaneously allows Renault to build bridges between the advanced technologies seen in the world championship and its road cars, particularly in the fields of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consistent with its commitment to F1, Renault will develop its R.S. range by stepping up investment in order to be active on every continent and in even more segments with vehicles that meet the needs of their different markets.

Formula 1 serves to promote awareness of the Renault brand and its image in all its markets across the world. Formula 1 is one of the sports that enjoys the most media coverage worldwide thanks to a following on five continents, particularly in emerging markets. It attracts 450 million television viewers annually and its scope for growth is enormous thanks to opportunities founded on new technologies, social networks, video games, etc. that have yet to be fully exploited.

In January, we will provide more detailed information about Renault’s F1 programme ahead of the 2016 championship that begins next March.


If you believe AUTOSPORT, and there are many reason to do so, then Renault have officially completed their takeover of Lotus F1. There were many issues at stake and mainly the car maker’s payment structure within Formula One Management’s prize money distribution model was chief among them. The team were seeking Historic Team status which garners a favorable chunk of the money on top of what they earn via their finishing position in the championship.

The article says that this was part of the obstacles for Renault CEO, Carlos Ghosn, but he agreed to F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s final offer. This means the team will be on the grid for 2016 as a Renault works operation and according to Lotus F1 CEO, Matthew Carter, the French manufacturer is buying back its team in much better shape than they left it.

“I’ve obviously my steer on it, but as far as I’m concerned they [Renault] are buying a much better team than when they left,” Lotus CEO Matthew Carter told Autosport.

“For all their faults, and people have had lots to say about Genii and its ownership, but they’ve invested heavily in the place.

“From when Renault sold the team, the windtunnel is much improved, there is now a driver-in-the-loop simulator, while other areas of the factory have been upgraded.”

Fair enough but I will say that Renault did pretty darn well with those shabby accommodations they had in Enstone back in the old days. They won two titles on the trot with Spaniard Fernando Alonso and beat Ferrari. They innovated many of F1’s trick designs and they also executed some of F1’s more controversial and embarrassing incidents such as Crash-gate in 2008.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see just how much progress the team can make with manufacturer resources and 32 new tokens to spend in 2016. The engine development from Renault Sport F1 seemed to hinge on a lot of things but now that it’s making it’s lump for its own chassis, maybe they will redouble their efforts?

AUTOSPORT is light on any details and mainly because this is a pre-announcement story with no details shared such as what will happen to Gerard Lopez, the Genii Capital investor who owns the Lotus F1 team? Is he to remain on board? What about Alan Permane and the folks at Enstone? Same as usual? Will Cyril Abiteboul come back into F1 as a team boss like he was at Caterham? Did Renault get “Historic Team” status with FOM? Can they change their name as registered team entrants with the FIA can’t just change names hence the Marussia tag even though the team was called Manor?

There are a lot of questions and hopefully Renault will make a formal announcement soon and answer some of the questions fans have about the arrangement.


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Paul KieferJr

1. Would it be easier to say “Renault-Lotus F1” or “Lotus-Renault F1”?

2. I would hope that Renault gets that historic status. They’ve put up a pretty good argument for it.


I’ll check with Carlos, but I think he prefers ‘100% Renault’

Andreas Möller

First off, I hope Autosport is correct here, since we’d otherwise most certainly lose a team off the grid. At least from the look of things, Lotus wouldn’t survive long without this buyout. But the historic status thing is a bit puzzling to me. I get that Ferrari can definitely be called “historic” in F1 – they’ve been around more or less forever. And Renault sure has done their part over the years. But if sheer number of years are to be counted, Sauber has a longer history than Renault… yet, Red Bull counts as a “historic” team, even though… Read more »

Tom Firth

Didn’t Sauber lose it when BMW bought them?

Andreas Möller

Were they ever a “historic” team? I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. Even so, I was merely pointing out that there are others who has also served F1 for quite a number of years. Not that it matters much in the end – the historic status seems to be more connected to the contractual commitment than any actual history (Red Bull being a prime example).

Alianora La Canta

Almost. They lost it when BMW walked off-stage without remembering to arrange a buyer for the team first. So Sauber’s Concorde Agreement (the source of “historic” in the FIA/FOM context) dates to 2010. Complete list of “historic” commencement of teams: Ferrari – 1950 McLaren – 1966 Mercedes – 1970 (its founder team for FOM purposes is Tyrrell!) Williams – 1978 Renault – 1984 (founder team: Toleman) Toro Rosso – 1985 (founder team: Minardi) Force India – 1991 (founder team: Jordan) Red Bull – 1997 (founder team: Stewart) Sauber – 2010 Manor – 2010 (founder team: Virgin) Haas – 2016 Though… Read more »


Thanks for that insight Alianora.

Tom Firth

Thanks :-)

João Jorge

“Pretty sure” Sauber started in 1991 (as sauber-mercedes), with Wendlinger and Mercedes-Illmor engines.

João Jorge

sorry, reread your post and made a fool of myself. Thanks for the info.

Negative Camber

I updated the post with the official news from Renault. See above.


I see them saying it’s a done deal they’ll be back. I don’t see them saying it’s a done deal they’re taking over Lotus yet. I see Lotus saying that, I don’t see Renault saying that. I’m not saying it’s not happening, it’s just interesting what things Renault is being specific about and what they’re not.