NOVEMBER 9, 2010
Lotus-Renault talks ongoing
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn, a Brazilian-born Lebanese, was a visitor to Interlagos on Sunday but refused to confirm recent rumours of either a sale of the company's 25% remaining stake in Renault F1 or a sponsorship link with Group Lotus.
The manner of Lotus Racing's confirmation of its Renault engine deal for next year, with no official word on what the team will be called in 2011 after disputes over F1 naming rights with Group Lotus-owning Proton, fuelled expectation that Group Lotus will imminently ink a deal to become partners in the Enstone, England-based Renault F1team.
We understand that talks are still ongoing and that further developments may become known over the course of the Abu Dhabi GP weekend. One suggestion is that Group Lotus, now under ex-Ferrari and Red Bull man Dany Bahar, will use F1 to market its new road car range and that for the next couple of seasons at least, the cars could be entered as Lotus Renaults.
The move would invoke memories of the mid eighties when black-and-gold JPS-sponsored Lotuses were driven by Ayrton Senna. It is not inconceivable that the black-and gold livery could return next year (being close to Renault's existing scheme) and that nephew Bruno could even drive for the team in 2011 alongside Robert Kubica.
All Ghosn would confirm in Brazil was Renault's ongoing commitment to F1, but he made it clear that it was more likely to be as supplier rather than team owner. "We are not in F1 to own a particular team; we are in F1 to promote the Renault name and Renault technology," he said. "We will do whatever is necessary to do so at a lower cost and with less investment. We are not going to put more resources than necessary into achieving that aim."
His words suggest that any buy-in from Group Lotus will involve a purchase of the Renault stake rather than any of Genii Capital's 75% holding.