Some unfinished business
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Renault slots another piece of the jigsaw in place with Team Lotus extension
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Sep 2011   |  1:07 am GMT  |  37 comments

Engine supplier Renault Sport F1 has been making moves recently with its partners, first a long term deal with Red Bull Racing, essentially its ‘works’ team and now Team Lotus.

The deal announced on Sunday in Singapore takes the partnership through to the end of the V8 engine era and also adds in KERS for the first time. This will come along with the gearbox from Red Bull Racing, which the team has been using this year.

Although the deal runs to the end of 2013, team boss Tony Fernandes said that his intention is for a longer term deal to be put together which would see his team, likely to be rebranded as Caterham, using Renault’s version of the new generation small capacity turbo engines from 2014 onwards. The noises from Viry Chatillon indicate that this is their intention too.

Williams already has a deal in place, while the former Renault team, known as LRGP is also a customer at present. As the clock winds down to December 2013 on the ‘old’ technology, there are deals to be done for bigger teams to get some value from their investment by selling to smaller teams. There have been suggestions that LRGP may supply a gearbox and back end to HRT, but these have not been confirmed.

Renault Sport’s MD Jean-Fracois Caubet said of the Team Lotus deal, “This year we have established solid foundations with Team Lotus and this latest agreement consolidates the relationship that we look forward to continuing for many seasons to come. Renault is in F1 to display the quality of its product, so we need to be associated with teams that clearly have potential. The steps Team Lotus has made on and off track with its technical structure and facilities have given us a confidence they will achieve their aims. KERS is now an essential part to a competitive performance in F1 today and we hope this supply will help the team continue its evolution. Furthermore a wider experience of using the KERS system at this point in time will help in the development of the powerful energy recovery systems that will be introduced under the future engine regulations.”

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37 Comments
  1. Nadeem says:

    James teams will take KERS from Red Bull Tech. Their KERS doens’t work all the time and is not the best system, can you shed more light on this?

  2. Prisoner Monkeys says:

    I wonder … could Renault slowly be squeezing LRGP out of the picture? There is talk that Group Lotus could buy the team, or at least change the constructor name to Lotus …

    1. James Allen says:

      Don’t think so. Lopez who owns LRGP said no emphatically on Friday

      1. Prisoner Monkeys says:

        I don’t mean cutting them off completely – I mean encouraging the team to run under a new manufacturer name and finding a new semi-official ‘works’ team. After all, Renault largely exited the sport at the end of 2009. Now two years later, there is someone still competing as Renault. I can’t imagine that’s an idea situation for them.

    2. Sebee says:

      Speculation is a dangerous game in F1 as we know, and you would fully expect Lopez to deny, and media not to kick a team which will likely head toward the medical car end of the field in the next two seasons.

      To address you question with my opinion, you don’t have to wonder. You can clearly see that everything that has happened in past few seasons is for Renault to move away from this team and continue with their exit strategy. Meanwhile, all we hear is news of Renault working closer with Red Bull Racing, LRGP needing advance on next season money, financial troubles, pay drivers with sponsorship portfolios at LRGP, etc. Of course Renault is squeezing LRGP out of the picture – it’s clear to see. 2014 LRGP will likely be a Renault engine customer paying for engines or they will be running something else. I put them at 7th in the championship next year.

      What I wonder personally is about Kubica. Assuming he’s capable – should he look for options to have as backup to this team? Would he have any options beside LRGP?

  3. why would they not extend the contract into the v6 era ? seems funny to me …

    Matt

  4. Matt Devenish says:

    Is it assumed or fact that LRGP (the black ones) will be running Renault engines past 2013? I’m wondering if they have the necessary budget available.

  5. Alex Yoong says:

    This Lotus name row business has been rather ridiculous, and needs to be sorted out once and for all. I can see the sense in a way in Fernandes going for the Caterham name, as there is a racy pedigree to that manufacturer that could attract fans. But, to play devil’s advocate, does an F1 team really sit properly with what is known in some quarters as a kit-car manufacturer?

    Still, Caterham is the sort of outfit that people could get passionate about, so go for it. Presumably Fernandes has bought Caterham (?) and therefore stands to benefit on two fronts- i.e. attracts fans for F1 set-up, increases sales for road car division.

  6. Speed F1 says:

    Well done to Renault as the engine supplier, horrible factory team lately. They might need to focus on bringing the factory team back to its glory days rather than making quick $$$ on engine supply. Anyway didn’t enjoy the Singapore Grand Prix at all. Not much racing, only accidents and penalties involving not unenjoyable dramas. The result is basically,

    Vettel = briliiant car, awesome driving = certain winner = boring race

    Button = smooth driving = not attack = always a bit boring

    Webber = horrible start = not as good as the team mate = do the best he can

    Alonso = outperform the car = some dignity for Ferrari

    Hamilton = aggressive overtakes = trouble maker

    Schumacher = most entertaining driver of the grid = lots of camera actions

    Championship 2011 = not fun watching the drivers not being able to fight for the win = awful DRS system, no refuelling, bad tyres = too many boring races = boring championship

    1. David M says:

      Have you been watching the same stuff as the rest of us?

    2. Michael P says:

      Spot on buddy. DRS is horrible… the Pirelli tires are horrible. Bring back refueling and lets see some splash and dash racing… back to some true strategy, guess work on fuel loads etc… instead of the covering off and undercuts.

      2011 has to rank up there with 2004 as one of the most boring seasons… have a dominate team with a dominate driver eating up the competition.

    3. Andy C says:

      I do agree to some extent about singapore. I dont like the track, although it looks nice lit up.

      “Button = smooth driving = not attack = always a bit boring”

      So as in a little boring, overtaking more people than anyone else in 2011? To be fair hes been really good this year. Metronomic consistency, and had he not lost a wheel in Silverstone he’d have been closer to seb.

      Agreed on Alonso. He seems to be able to get the maximum out of every car he drives. Its a shame that Ferrari have dropped back again after looking like they’d caught up to McLaren.

  7. Ahmed says:

    Yesterday on the F1 Forum Eddie Jordan excitedly announced that he had a very special guest, and i was like ‘Yay, thats James Allen!’

    Alas, it was Rick Astley :s

    1. James Allen says:

      I had that a lot 20 years ago…

      1. Andy C says:

        Have you ever been seen in the same room as him? I bet not ;0)

  8. Andrew Carter says:

    Hi James. Earlier in the year Renault were making noises about only supplying two teams with turbo engines from 2014, have they changed their mind on that?

  9. phil says:

    Does this mean Team Lotus will have the reduced capacity KERS of the Red Bull?

  10. George C. says:

    James,
    a bit off topic, however could you obtain info regarding ‘engine use’, together with technical data of rece strategies?

  11. Andy C says:

    Great to see Renault deeply embedded in the future of the sport, with a number of teams.

    I can only hope that Honda come back to F1. F1 needs great manufacturers with pedigree, and from an F1 perspective Honda has been a giant of the sport over the years.

    James,

    on an aside, I’m interested to hear a lot of comment about Lewis not having had management team member there at singapore.

    Of late I think Lewis is coming accross much better in the press/interviews and being a little more thoughtful in his responses.

    I see his issues to be mainly track based, in that he’s seeming to be low on confidence and caught in two minds about aggressive/conservative. The incident at the weekend I felt was just pure bad luck. How many times to do see a driver cut back across so close and miss the wheel.

    1. Lockster says:

      Actually James, on a similar note, I was interested to hear whether you thought that Lewis’s more erratic driving recently has anything to do with him not having his father as part of his race weekend now?

      He seems to be far more erratic that he was previously (even in his Rookie year) and in contrast, Paul DiResta (Who is managed by Lewis’s father now) seems to be extremely composed and driving very much like Lewis did wen he first entered the sport.

      Is it a coincidence or is Lewis really missing the input (and perhaps calming influence) from his Father during a race weekend now?

      1. James Allen says:

        Well his Dad was there and has been lately with P Di R whom he manages. He is to be seen on McLaren but he’s not hands on I guess

  12. Floyd says:

    In my opinion an Engine manufacturer should not be allowed to supply more than 3 F1 teams.
    I wonder how PURE and Cosworth will survive when Renault & Mercedes are going to supply 70% of the grid.

    1. Phil R says:

      Agreed, this was the situation before, but seems to have been changed. Any ideas why?

  13. Sebee says:

    Wow! F1 is becoming Formula Renault.
    I have to say, Pollock may be onto something here with concerns Renault is locking up too many F1 teams for quite some time.

    Perhaps this will show car manufacturers how to be successful in F1. Instead if buying teams on misguided me-too mentality, put your effort into a good engine with a good team and reel in the rewards. Like Renault,
    Like BMW did with Williams. Like Honda. Ferrari and Mercedes never seem to give the best hardware to their customer teams. Name me a time when Ferrari was beaten by customer team? Conflict of interest is obvious.

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt says:

      2008, Monza of all places, when Vettel took a Torro Rosso to 1st.

      1. Sebee says:

        One time in the rain in both quali and race.

        How many times has Toro Rosso been higher in the standings than Ferrari in November?

    2. RIch Tysoe says:

      Vettel’s win in the Torro Rosso.

    3. Andy C says:

      Quite a lot with Sauber of late. :-)

    4. F1Novice says:

      They should make a rule that Engine Manufacturers supply all their customers with equal spec engines so they all get a fair crack…. Easily done – for instance Renault put all the engines they build into a “pool” and the ALL teams they supply (including Red Bull) draw lots to get the engines therefore ensuring parity across all the engines as they would have to build them all the the same highest spec possible.

      1. Sebee says:

        As usual in F1 things have to be more complicated than they need to be for sake of complexity. Sure, Renault could do what you suggest, but what about those who aren’t buying gearboxes or KERs? And should Ferrari make it’s own team draw straws? What are they here to do? Oh yes, market themselves through winning by gaining every possible advantage and ensuring that Suaber doesn’t have this year’s best engine to beat them with by accident.

        F1 is walking a fine line on many issues and manages to keep the house of cards standing. I’m surprised the pressure is not being applied harder at Mercedes over their poor performance. Obviously McLaren is far from a “customer” due to the history of their relatinoship, but being whipped two seasons running by McLaren can’t be sitting well in Stuttgart. They better shape up next year or heads will roll. It’s not how things work in F1 – factory team always beats customer in championship standings.

  14. James says:

    It would not surprise me to see Renault engines in Caterham road cars in the near future

  15. Phil R says:

    How interchangeable are the gearbox’s with the engines? With the Brawn was it a merc gearbox or an adapted Honda unit?

  16. ginnerchris says:

    James – love the articles on Team Lotus (and Ferrari), but wondered when we might see other “team pages” – Surely Mclaren and Williams have substantial enough fanbases to support it?

  17. Edson Framil says:

    Ferrari doesn’t want customers teams stealing their thunder… Vettel and Toro Rosso remains the only ones to have won driven with a customer Ferrari engine.. and let’s not forget Ferrari also never sold their chassis. Anyway, if F1 becomes Formula Renault and still be fun to watch with disputes like many races this season i certainly wouldn’t care at all… the 70′s were bascially 30 Cosworths against 2 Ferraris Alfas and Renaults, and it was hell fun back then

  18. pisto says:

    A bit off-topic, and I don’t know if JA is preparing a piece on the overtaking of lapped cars.

    How is it possible that in the state of the art and most technologically advanced racing series we still have to rely on lapped drivers to be aware by their tiny mirrors that they are about to be lapped.

    Come on, just put an horizontal row of 22 (one per driver) leds on the front part of the cockpit of every car, with red marking the driver’s current position, green leds to mark the cars in the same lap, and a blue led when a car is about to lap you. When a said car is about to lap one car and at less than 3 seconds, make that blue led blink.

    Alternatively, change the rules:

    1) under blue flags, not overtaking between cars in the same lap allowed.

    2) when a car does not get away when about to be lapped, just black flag.

  19. PaulWible says:

    This article on AutoBlog clearly proves the squandered brand equity with both “Lotus” teams in F1. They display the wrong “Lotus” in the article and I am sure it’s not the only time this has happened.

    Maybe Lotus mgt doesn’t mind the lack of differentiation?

    What % of the fans really know or care? (not to undersell the F1 fan base, but…)

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