'Renault not Lotus' only option'
Cash-strapped team also insist they'll be at every remaining race this season; But boss Matthew Carter reveals talks with "a certain car manufacturer have been ongoing for a number of months"
By Mike Wise
Last Updated: 09/09/15 1:12pm
Lotus boss Matthew Carter says the team have “more than one option” as a potential buyer besides Renault.
While talks between the current owners of the Enstone outfit and the French manufacturer are no secret – Carter now says they've been "ongoing for the number of months" – and details of a Renault offer were leaked to the press last week, no deal has yet been struck.
Speaking on Friday, Carter said that Renault weren't the only party interested in the team, who have struggled financially for some time now. However, he stopped short of revealing what the other option, or options, might be.
"It's difficult for me to say too much. Obviously, my job is to run the team and look after the team as it stands; the ownership and shareholding of that team are down to our current shareholders and potential future shareholders," Carter said.
"All I can tell you is that negotiations with a certain car manufacturer have been ongoing for a number of months and as far as I'm aware, we're just trying to run the team as best we can with the tools that we've got."
Reports suggested that Renault's offer is for 65 per cent ownership of the team, worth £65m to be paid over a period of 10 years. On top of that, they would also come up with an operating budget.
"The financial issues are all over the press, everyone's aware of them. We're working as hard as we can behind the scenes to get them sorted out. None of them have become terminal, obviously; we're still here," Carter said.
"The negotiations I referred to earlier on are going on behind the scenes. I'm hopeful that's going to secure our future one way or the other going forward – and when I say one or the other, it just means that we have more than one option."
Even so, Carter later told Sky Sports F1 that securing a deal with Renault is their number one priority.
"I referred in the press conference to the fact that we haven't only got one plan. If Renault decided that they didn't want to buy the team, or they couldn't come to an agreement, then we do have alternatives," he said.
"But they're alternatives that we've had to sit and wait for, just to see what's going to happen with the Renault situation. Then we decide from there."
Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz reported: "Renault have been doing their due diligence on the team. We believe the deal is very close, with Alain Prost in some kind of senior managerial role."
And with the summer bringing stories of winding up order applications and an administration hearing reportedly scheduled, it is understood the latter scenario is only likely if takeover talks break down completely.
Carter insisted, however, that Lotus will see out the season. "I can guarantee you that we'll be at Singapore. One of our sea freight containers has left, our air freight container left last week," he added.
"As far as the rest of the races this season, we have a budget in place, we will operate to that budget and we'll be at all the races."