Renault F1 team to return from 2016
Renault completed their takeover of the Lotus team on Thursday ahead of the French manufacturer’s return to Formula One in 2016, company boss Carlos Ghosn announced.
The French firm’s return as a full team comes after the acrimonious split with Red Bull which garnered four driver’s world titles in a row but ended after Renault had become angered by the Austrian team’s criticism of their engines this year.
“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 per cent or leave,” said Renault chairman Ghosn.
“After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula One, starting 2016,” he added.
In taking over Lotus, Renault are essentially buying back the team they had sold to Genii Capital in 2009 and which was renamed Lotus F1 Team for the 2012 season.
Associated with the sport since 1977 Renault has two drivers and constructors titles to its name when Fernando Alonso won back-to-back championships in 2005-06.
A Renault statement added: “Renault and Lotus F1 Team have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.”
It said the auto manufacturer had had uninterrupted involvement in Formula One 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,” the statement read. “Renault has since taken part in more than 600 grand prix, claiming 168 race wins, 12 Constructors’ titles and 11 Drivers’ crowns.”
Lotus have been in financial trouble all year as Genii Capital scaled back their investment in the team, resulting in unpaid bills and a cash-flow problem.
They were locked out of their hospitality building over debts relating to last year’s race at Suzuka.
It has been a dramatic fall from grace since the relatively successful 2012 and 2013 seasons in which they finished fourth in the constructors’ championship. They took only eighth in 2014 and after switching to Mercedes engines in 2015 finished sixth.
The team’s planned driver line-up for 2016 sees Briton Jolyon Palmer, son of former Formula One driver Jonathan Palmer, succeeding departing Frenchman Romain Grosjean alongside Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.