It’s been a while since Renault were a full works team in Formula 1 and the last time they were, they won a few titles. According the the fine folks at AUTOSPORT, the French car maker will once again enter F1 through acquisition of the current team Lotus F1.
sources have indicated the French car manufacturer would take a stake up to 65 per cent, worth a total of £65million, with an initial downpayment of £7.5million to be followed by equal installments over the following 10 years.
Gerard Lopez, currently Lotus F1 team co-owner via his Genii organisation, looks set to remain as a shareholder with a potential stake of around 25 per cent, with four-time champion and Renault ambassador Alain Prost acquiring the remaining 10 per cent.
The arrangement with Lopez and Prost would be very similar to that at Mercedes where motorsport boss Toto Wolff and non-executive chairman Niki Lauda possess shareholdings in the F1 team.
It’s an interesting twist with former F1 driver and world champion Alain Prost involved but it could be a nice fit. What will also be interesting to see is who they retain as drivers. The report says that Frenchman Romain Grosjean is set to stay but that Pastor Maldonado, heavily backed by PDVSA, is negotiating.
The team would do well to look at all potential drivers including Jean-Eric Vergne and Nico Hulkenberg to get their program back on top.
This leaves the engine issue. Renault currently supply Red Bull and Toro Rosso and rumors have both outfits eager to end their engine supply contract early in favor of a Mercedes lump. Regardless, retaining the contract means revenue and it also could be a challenge as Lotus is supplied by Mercedes engines.
While the team would view 2017 as their first real year of being a fully developed works team, the details of engine contracts, driver contracts and more will weigh on the team during the 2016 campaign. Perhaps Lotus turns into Renault through a buy-in and still run Mercedes for a season?
I only have one request out of the whole deal and it’s a big one…could we please get the cars painted in traditional French Racing blue? For crying out loud!
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT