Renault’s future in F1 remains in the balance, and the French company has yet to commit to purchasing Lotus.
The clock is ticking given that Lotus is in court on December 7, and the team faces the prospect of going into administration.
“What I can say is that there will be no announcement regarding Renault’s future short term, or middle term future over the weekend,” said Renault Sport’s Cyril Abiteboul. “But there will be an announcement very likely in the course of next week.
“We always said that we would like to do that after the season, the season is ending on Sunday, around at the start of December. So that is what we will do, we will make an announcement then. Later he told the BBC: “Pulling out of F1 completely is on the table if we don’t manage to convince the board that F1 is a meaningful investment for Renault.
Renault has always made clear that the deal to purchase Lotus and turn it back into a works team depended in large part on the financial numbers, and specifically on how much FOM money Bernie Ecclestone was willing to commit. However it’s understood that he has changed his mind on the original offer made to Renault.
Ecclestone is keen to have Renault back as a works player and saviour of the Enstone team, but even keener for Renault to maintain its role as engine supplier to Red Bull.
Sources have suggested that Ecclestone originally agreed a figure on the basis that Renault remained with RBR – in effect subsidising the team’s supply – but then discovered how much Red Bull has agreed to pay for the French engine on top of that. His view is understood to be that Renault would in effect be being paid twice for the same thing.
Senior executive Jerome Stoll, who is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Renault Group, as well as President of Renault Sport, has met with Ecclestone in Abu Dhabi to discuss the situation, and it’s understood that they will talk again on Saturday morning.
One complication for Renault is that by signing a 2016 contract with Red Bull the company is now obliged to be present in F1 next season, and one of Ecclestone’s key problems – finding an engine for RBR – has been solved. That has potentially weakened Renault’s hand in any negotiations, even if the future of Lotus remains under threat.