After dragging through a season full of late freight shipments and unpaid bills, the Lotus Formula One team’s financial savior has finalized their purchase of the team, per the BBC. Renault signed a letter of intent to purchase the Lotus F1 team at the end of September, and the principal contracts of the purchase were signed today.
Renault chairman Carlos Ghosn told the BBC:
Renault had two options: to come back 100% or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided Renault will be in F1 in 2016.
While the BBC reports that its takeover isn’t entirely complete yet, Ghosn told them that it will be done “in the shortest timeframe possible.”
Hooray! Rejoice, Lotus/Renault fans. After all, Enstone-based Lotus was the team that used to be Renault. Hopefully the bright yellow returns as well. Personally, I’m a big fan of this rendering of a Big Bird-esque Renault livery back on Lotus’ car:
According to Autosport, several details held up the finalization of Renault’s purchase. Formula One head Bernie Ecclestone and Renault Sport president Jerome Stoll met during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend to determine a compromise over Renault’s share of the constructor’s championship bonus and historical payments. Lotus finished sixth in this year’s constructor’s championship.
Ultimately, Ghosn approved Ecclestone’s latest offer, thus bringing Renault back as a full-on Formula One works team for the first time since their 2009 sale of the Team Currently Known As Lotus But Not For Much Longer to Genii Capital.
Autosport reports that Renault staff have already started working in certain areas at the Enstone team base.
Lotus CEO Matthew Carter told Autosport of the purchase:
I’ve obviously my steer on it, but as far as I’m concerned they [Renault] are buying a much better team than when they left.
People have had lots to say about Genii and its ownership, but they’ve invested heavily in the place.
From when Renault sold the team, the windtunnel is much improved, there is now a driver-in-the-loop simulator, while other areas of the factory have been upgraded.
That was all done prior to me arriving. Since I arrived, from the financial side, whilst it has been super-challenging - certainly the last few months - they’re picking up a business that is in pretty good shape financially.
I always try and look at things from both sides, and it always seemed like a good deal from day one.
It has been frustrating that it has taken so long to get it over the line, but they have bought a team that really can compete.
As far as I’m concerned - and we’ve shown it - we can compete on a budget as well, without the hundreds of millions of pounds from the big boys.
He’s right: a sixth-place finish in the constructor’s championship on Lotus’ broke as a joke budget was pretty impressive. With more funding, perhaps they’ll be a major contender—provided Renault’s power units also improve for next year.
Welcome back, Renault F1 Team. (Even though you sort of never left.)
Photo credit: Getty Images
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