Renault Settles on Lotus, to Take 65-Percent Stake in F1 Team
31 August 2015 - Autoblog
Renault's coquettish moves toward becoming a constructor again have been news all season. The expected maneuver, should Renault say "Oui" to such, was for the French carmaker to repurchase the Lotus team - the team it sold at the end of 2010 to Genii Capital.
Then last week we got the surprise news that Renault had been talking to Force India about taking a majority stake, but that information came with the context that Renault had discussions with several teams about such a move.
Autosport reports that Renault has finally decided to get back together with Lotus, taking a stake worth up to 65 percent for 65 million pounds. The deciding factor was said to be the facilities that Lotus has available compared to Force India, including the Enstone factory formerly owned by Renault, plus a computational fluid dynamics program, driver-in-the-loop simulator, and a 60-percent-scale wind tunnel.
The final shareholding stake will be split between Gerard Lopez at 25 percent and Renault ambassador Alain Prost at 10 percent. Renault will make a 7.5-million-pound payment immediately, completing the acquisition by paying 5.75-million-pounds per year for the next ten years. On top of that, Renault will invest a budget commensurate with those of Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Infiniti Red Bull Racing.
The carmaker's board and CEO Carlos Ghosn have approved the deal, it is up to Lotus shareholders to agree to everything by Monday, when Autosport says the papers will be signed. The deal puts team drivers and the Red Bull engine supply in question. It should be expected for Romain Grosjean to remain, but keeping Pastor Maldonado is not a certainty. As for engines, Red Bull's engine supply contract states it must be Renault's priority, so Renault could stick with the Mercedes power unit Lotus currently uses for one more year, or help Red Bull get in bed with Mercedes. We should know more next week.