Renault has finally confirmed that it will stay in F1 next year and will return as a works effort with Lotus.
Negotiations have dragged on for months and reached a critical point over the Abu Dhabi weekend as a long-term deal – believed to be for nine years – was negotiated with Bernie Ecclestone and F1 owner CVC.
“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn. “After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win–even if it will take some time.”
In a statement Renault made it clear that it was important to be a works effort: “Following the September announcement of the signing of a Letter of Intent with Lotus F1 Team, teams at Renault continued to evaluate the possibility of a return to Formula 1. Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016.
“As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.
“Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015. Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 Team have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.”
Renault says that it will gain a lot from its involvement: “Renault’s decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand’s identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles. Passion defines Renault as expressed by its brand signature, ‘Passion for Life’.
“In addition to attracting many customers, Formula 1 also fuels employee motivation. As the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 demands technological and operational excellence. The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.
“Formula 1 serves to promote awareness of the Renault brand and its image in all its markets across the world. Formula 1 is one of the sports that enjoys the most media coverage worldwide thanks to a following on five continents, particularly in emerging markets. It attracts 450 million television viewers annually and its scope for growth is enormous thanks to opportunities founded on new technologies, social networks, video games, etc. that have yet to be fully exploited.
“In January, we will provide more detailed information about Renault’s F1 programme ahead of the 2016 championship that begins next March.”