Lotus Cars to Buy Renault F1 Team in 2011?

Although Renault recently announced that it has increased its involvement in Formula One thanks to a new engine deal signed with Lotus F1 Racing Team for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, it seems that the French manufacturer has different plans for the near future.

According to a report from British magazine Autosport, it appears that Renault is finding ways to scale back its involvement in the series... as a constructor. Last year, following the famous “crash gate”, the French carmaker sold the majority of its F1 team to Luxembourg firm Genii Capital, hinting that it wants to diminish its F1 investment.

If we are to trust the latest reports, Renault is eager to remain a player in F1, but only as an engine supplier, rather than a works team. And Genii Capital doesn't like that one bit, as they are apparently considering a tie-up with another F1 team rather than increase their financial support for the Enstone based outfit.

The latest reports show that Genii Capital might move to sign a partnership with the current Lotus F1 Team, backed partially by the Malaysian government and ran by AirAsia boss Tony Fernandez.

That would leave Renault's Enstone operations out in the dark, one might think. But no, it seems that the very Lotus Cars, the company that apparently holds the rights to the Team Lotus name in Formula One, is considering stepping in as a works team, alongside Renault. They would use Renault power, gearbox, hydraulics and current chassis for the 2011 season, while the other Lotus-Renault team, the Malaysian-backed one, would continue their F1 adventure only with a new major investor, Genii Capital.

For the time being, Lotus Cars and 1Malaysia Racing Team Ltd (currently known as Lotus F1 Racing) are settling a dispute over the right of the Team Lotus name in court. Once that will be over, we'll know for sure who will get to use the Lotus name in F1 and who will have to chance their designation in the series.

In case Lotus Cars wins in court and will step in alongside Renault, it's likely that the new name of the team will also include the Renault name, despite the fact that the French manufacturer will likely become a supplier, rather than financially support the team.

As far as the current Lotus F1 Racing team is concerned, when they announced the deal with Renault for powerplant use in 2011/12, they mentioned “1Malaysia Racing Team” rather than Lotus F1 Racing, meaning they are considering the prospect of losing out to Lotus Cars in court and having to rename their operations completely starting 2011.
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