Renault confirm they will return to F1 after buying Lotus
"I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1. Our ambition is to win even if it will take some time," says Renault chief Carlos Ghosn
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 04/12/15 11:33am
Renault have confirmed they will be taking over the Lotus team and making a full comeback to F1 as their own 'works' outfit.
The French manufacturer will return to the sport as a full works team for the first time since selling the same team to Genii Capital in 2010.
"Our ambition is to win even if it will take some time," said Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn.
The long-anticipated takeover deal had been plunged into doubt due to a dispute between the group, who supplied for engines for Red Bull and Toro Rosso in 2015, and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone over 'historic' prize money payments.
"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," added Ghosn.
Completion of the takeover is expected to be swiftly followed by details of Red Bull's new power supply arrangement for 2016, while their junior outfit Toro Rosso are set to use a year-old spec of Ferrari engines.
'As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited,' said the group in a statement. 'The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.
'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.'
Englishman Jolyon Palmer, who replaces the Haas-bound Romain Grosjean, and Pastor Maldonado will drive for the team next season.
As Lotus, the Enstone outfit have endured a series of high-profile cashflow shortfalls this year and were only able to stave off a winding-up petition in the High Court two months ago when Renault signed a letter of intent to repurchase the team.
"Lotus have had financial problems for more than a year but the final documents have been signed and although there are one or two little areas to complete the essential contracts are in place," reported Sky Sports News HQ's Craig Slater.
"It is a major development for the sport and an enormous relief to the staff of 500 at the factory in Enstone."
Lotus' precarious financial plight was laid bare once again at the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP when unpaid bills to circuit officials delayed the build process for their cars. Lotus received dispensation from the stewards to delay the scruitneering of their cars from Thursday until Friday morning, with Ecclestone reportedly stepping in to settle the fees dispute.
Behind the scenes, meanwhile, it's understood that a compromise deal between Lotus and Ecclestone was agreed on Sunday morning before the season finale, paving the way for Renault to return to F1 as their own eponymous outfit for the 2016 season which begins in March.
Full statement from Renault
* Renault 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, 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 the Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015. The Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 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.'