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Lotus boss admits name will ‘disappear’ from F1 when Renault deal goes through
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Lotus F1
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Nov 2015   |  3:40 pm GMT  |  59 comments

Lotus F1 team CEO Matthew Carter has confirmed that when the deal is finalised for the takeover of the Enstone based team for next season, it will no longer be called Lotus, but will become Renault.

The deal, which has been pending for some weeks now, is due to be finalised imminently, but speaking to the official F1 site, Carter confirmed that suggestions that the team may continue under the Lotus banner for 2016 were wide of the mark,

“If the deal with Renault goes through, then yes. Then the team will not be called Lotus – then the name will fall out of Formula One. Right now we have a license to use the name Lotus – and that license will be terminated. So someone else could go for that name!”

The “if” at the start of that sentence is interesting, as there are various stories out there at the moment about the state of readiness of this transaction. French sources insist that Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has not yet signed off, but other sources suggest that it should be finalised in time to be announced at the end of the month. Carter’s intervention today on the official F1 site is interesting in terms of timing.

What is clear is that Gerard Lopez, Eric Lux and minority shareholder Andrew Ruhan will be selling the team to Renault, but maintaining a minority shareholding, with Renault taking a controlling interest. This was confirmed in the letter of intent signed and announced last month.

Carlos Ghosn

Beyond that, the hold up is clearly over money. It seems likely to be entwined in the ongoing saga over Red Bull engine supply, as F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone has some wriggle room on the prize money he pays to Renault for its historic involvement in the sport and there has been some exploration there. Red Bull seem very negative on the idea of a continuation with its long time French supplier, but there were suggestions in Austin and Mexico that one avenue being explored was for Red Bull to develop its own hybrid system to sit on top of a Renault Internal Combustion Engine, but without the unit being badged as a Renault.

Carter says that his team has been working on two chassis designs for 2016, “We have two options for an engine next year: either we go with Mercedes or Renault. We are progressing along that route. We’ve got two designs for next year’s car and we are pushing forward with both options.

“But that is a rather unlikely option that we will go into the 2016 season with a Mercedes engine. And if we were to, yes, that would mean that the Renault deal felt flat. But my strong guess is that it will be a Renault engine next year.”

Lotus’ supply of Mercedes engines has already been allocated to Manor for next season, so the manufacturer would have to work some logistical miracles to supply a fifth team in the time scale.

Matthew Carter

Carter’s colleague Federico Gastaldi has confirmed separately that Renault personnel are now back in the Enstone factory, working. Carter admitted that with all the upheaval at the team, 2016 is likely to be a fairly uncompetitive season, “The team that we’ve got in Enstone is brilliant. They have worked this year on a very small budget – and we’ve still managed to get a podium. We are a great team.

“We are trying to build a lot of the car in-house. We build our own gearbox, our own rear-end suspension in-house. A team like Force India uses the Mercedes engine and the Mercedes gearbox and rear-end suspension. We build all that by ourselves, so going from a Renault engine to a Mercedes engine was a huge step – but we did it and we are reasonably successful this season. So doing the job backwards, in the opposite direction: yes, we’ve done it before and, yes, we can do it (again). It will be tight because of the timing, but I think everything will be fine for the first test.

“I agree that next year will be difficult with the settling down of the new structure of the team. 2017 will see massive rule changes, so that could also mean a huge chance. We are already designing the car for 2017. So I think in 2017 we should be reasonably successful.”

Former Renault F1 boss Bob Bell is back in the fold at Enstone, ready to become the technical boss, while ART GP boss Frederic Vasseur is tipped for the team principal’s role alongside him, but nothing has been confirmed.

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1

No More Lotus In F1 From the 2016 Season [Mod] …

2

Renault without a French driver (and there is a very good driver out there)

3

Good – I’m fed up of seeing the legendary Lotus name thrown about from team to team like some cheap marketing opportunity.

Colin Chapman’s Team Lotus ended in 1994 and it should be left to rest in peace like the legend that it is.

4

Hopefully he’ll be gone soon too

5

Enstone is nothing to do with Lotus (other than some diabolical commercial scheme). Glad to see the end of this charade.

6

Said as a Lotus fan since early 1962 and owner of US69 50-1872 (a work in progress)

7

Fine. Let Renault get it over with already. But two historical points might usefully be kept in mind.

On names, forget the Lotus aspect. If memory serves me correctly, this is really the old Toleman, an English team in the garagiste tradition.

Second, on the Red Bull engine saga. This is the inevitable outcome of the garagiste team model. Once Vanwall hung it up, the only English team that wasn’t ENTIRELY dependent on someone else’s willingness to provide engines was BRM (and, briefly, Brabham). Without Coventry-Climax, Cooper, Lotus, and Brabham could not have raced, could not have existed. And the same held true for Lotus and too many others to mention (Tyrrell, McLaren, and Williams for three) in the DFV era.

The FIA wants to break the power of manufacturers. A tender for a simpler engine isn’t the solution. What’s needed is a simple enough formula that teams don’t have to be garagistes, but can afford to build the whole car. At minimum, it needs to be simple enough that there are multiple independent engine suppliers.

Won’t happen. F1 is allergic to simplicity.

8

Purposely delaying Lotus buyout by RENAULT, might give them enough leverage on Mr. BE to position RENAULT similar to Mercedes and Ferrari when it comes to their share of revenues and prize money.

If RENAULT pulls out of the deal with Lotus very late in the game, it is possible that Mercedes would not be able to supply engines and support to Lotus on time from logistic point of view. It would make it very difficult for Mr.BE managing the risk of having championship with no Lotus, maybe Redbull, and Toro Rosso! One thing the shareholders or potential F1 buyers don’t like is the uncertainty.

Personally I hope RENAULT buyout the good team of Lotus and keeps the backbone of the team.

9

Which would trigger three car teams

10

Yes, however it could be very hard for small teams like Force India, Sauber, Manor to come up with three cars in short period considering their budget and available resources.

11

“…it will no longer be called Lotus, but will become Renault.”

No problem! What’s the big deal???

12

Coz it will be a dog of a car next year, with the second slowest engine (Renault) and the weakest chassis of the Merc powered teams. .. So why would Renault want to hang their name on the side of that?

13

Suprised the board of Renault is even considering it. Obviously brand repsectability means nothing to them.

14

Well some interesting bits here. I guess the first one to surprise me or not was the building of two chassis to take two different PU’s. That sort of tells you that maybe – just maybe the people in the know aren’t 100% convinced that Renault will sign off on the deal.

Money – yes it is always the sticking point in deals. I wonder who paid off the Proton £30M, as that floating charge has disappeared from Companies House. I would have though given the size of the amount that something would appear in Malaysia, as this is a listed company, but yet no Stock Exchange notice has been filed – I wonder why. Did they do a swap for shares, then if so; was it in this new Renault venture?

The £150M of funds put into Enstone, well that is a heck of a lot to take a haircut on. But then we don’t know what Renault is paying. They never paid across for the Taxman court case. They can in theory control the company on 51% and that does leave some equity for the Genii and Ruhan investment, plus whatever they take out now.

There is a lot of big what “IF’s” in this – his statement and we need to remember he was put in by Andrew Ruhan, not the Genii lot.

They (Enstone) have done well this year, and I think with Mec power behind them, they could go far, as they are working on – developing their own systems, whereas Force India just buys in stuff. I think Enstone has a much better future than Force India.

15

The twin chassis designs could be the team posturing for negotiations with Renault- The merc design could be four lines on a serviette, just so that Renault can’t push their deal through by delaying.

The money numbers are staggering. And what was the cost to Renault to have off-loaded the team, and subsequently bought it back mired in debts. Coupled with the costs of designing an noncompetitive engine.

Formula 1 is like a financial endurance competition. Who can take a bath the most times before they lose the will to go on.

Maybe that’s what the champagne is for. To celebrate [Mod] the most money.

16

Matthew,

One of the age old questions is always follow the money. So in this case, given the state they “Claim” they were in back in Japan. Then one wonders what really is going on. How are they even able to look at building two chassis, whether they have or not is another question.

But who paid or how did they get rid of the Proton legal charge on the company. What really happen there?

I heard was that they did have more than enough funds to buy / pay their open bill’s yet given the laws we have here in the UK, that if they did, then they could be legally charged, that is the Directors will trading while been insolvent , and right now that carries a prison term. Also they just charged 3 directors, – the government has because they have more than 200 employees that they were shutting down the company, you need by law to give notice, and Enstone hasn’t done that so far….So the Directors are in a real tight spot right now.

One other mystery is the Mercedes engine – new chassis design ect….One wonders what the Mercedes people will think or maybe comment on it. As I though this PU was now been sold to Manor, and there is another story to tell…..what a mess.

So let’s say that Renault don’t do the deal, and it’s a good chance this could happen, then Enstone is back with a Mercedes PU unit and I guess so is Manor, can Mercedes honour both contracts? Now Red Bull will be really pissed off.

Plus who is paying, I guess Renault is to have their people there, hence they will know if there is a second Chassis been worked or not. I would think the Renault people are not in the engineering side, but admin & marketing which they do need a lot of help.

17

the interest people seem to have in just a name is staggering.

I guess several teams though calling themselves lotus would bring lotus like results like from the 60-70s

I cant be bothered to go to the gym. Maybe I will just get my name changed to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

18

Boo Hoo no more Fake lotus. Should we care?

The team died already in 1994.

19

Stop it 1994

I’ve run out of Kleenex ! 😀

It’s curtains from now on ! 😀

20

Speaking of this farce, let’s hope the other farce (Aston Martin) falls through. I’m all for revivals, but it demeans great car-brands to sponsor a Formula 1 team and pretend it’s more than stickers.

21

What a relief. The team should never have been called Lotus and I’m glad this farce ends here. Let’s hope it opens the door for a genuine Lotus entry, i.e. one with genuine involvement from this glorious company.

I’m allowed to dream, no?

22

How more of this Renault story is going to drag?

For the love of Bodica give us Brits back the name Lotus. Already the QPR owner ruined the car brand now he’s got his hands on Caterham !!

Buy the brand name &

stick it on a corner at Silverstone or Donnington.

(Am saying this tongue & cheek before the QPR owner has a hissy 😀 )

23

That’s a nice disclaimer at the end, but I don’t buy it for a second 😉

24

Random 79

Ssssh! QPR owner has his minions everywhere !

But you are correct 😀

25

Reading through this again, I get the feeling that the “if” at the beginning of the sentence is slightly rhetoric and just being cautious.

May be it is just wishful thinking on my part of course.

I certainly hope that deal does go through and if it does also that they do it “cleanly” and show up as Renault next year and not some type of interim naming solution.

I also hope, as stated in the past, that it is Renault that provides the PUs to Red Bull Racing as this has to be the most practical solution for all involved.

The notion of using re-badged Renault PUs is not new but could still be a delicate way around this mess for all concerned. Many years ago Renault entrusted the running of their engines whilst embarking on a hiatus from the sport to a Company called Mechachrome (spelling may be off here) and that was also the name of the engines then . . . I think Honda’s have been badged Mugen in the past too . . . there are other examples too.

There must be a way to get through this with everyone involved saving some face.

Red Bull Racing building their own energy recovery Systems, though ?

Is that not exactly the area where the established engine manufacturers struggling against Mercedes are lacking the most ?

You can get any number of capable engineering firms to build you an internal combustion engine (NOT saying it is easy) but the accompanying technologies pretty much exclusive to F1 engines post 2014 ?

26

James,

I thought I read somewhere that if the team name changes for 2016 they forfeit prize money related to how they ranked from this year. Is this incorrect?

27

Muy guess is that they are negotiating to get the money anyways, and that could be the reason why it’s taking so long… It’s only a guess

28

But Renault are a returning championship winning team. They could get prize money for their own name if Bernie wanted to play along.

29

I don’t think it was right that they used the Lotus name anyway what really did they have in common with Colin Chapman’s old team?

30

Not much except for the fact that the Lotus name is owned by the Lotus Cars Group which was also founded by Colin Chapman. Lotus Cars licenced the name to the Enstone team to use after they bought the team from Renault. The original Team Lotus was a separate entity from Lotus Cars.

31

It was never really Lotus anyway.

32

Does anyone know what has happened to the Team Lotus name? My understanding is that it was owned by one of the many, now defunct, Caterham companies. It would good to see it under the control of Group Lotus.

33

If I remember rightly, the Team Lotus name was bought by James Hunt’s brother.

34

@ BiffNZ, thanks so much for the link!, an absolutely fascinating read.

36

You are correct. The Team Lotus name is owned by Peter Hunt, James Hunt’s brother. He signed a deal with Tony Fernandes so he could use it for his new team. Then Gerard Lopez signed a deal with Group Lotus to use the name. Hence, the original problem.

37

David Hunt bought Team Lotus, albeit while it was in administration. It contested its final two GPs – Japan and Australia of 1994 – under his ownership, and the company wasn’t wound up until February 1995. I assume that this is where the idea that he “only bought the name” comes from, because of course after that point it was pretty much all he had (although he set up a new company, Team Lotus Ventures, to maintain the remaining intellectual property, which is what Tony Fernandes bought in 2010). It’s debatable, of course, whether he ever actually had the means to keep the team going beyond 1994, or if winding it up and licencing the name was always the plan. But he did own the whole thing, however briefly.

As far as I know, Fernandes still owns TLV, or the I.P. has been transferred to one of his companies. I find it hard to believe that after the 2011 court case – which resulted in confirmation that he was indeed the legitmate owner of the name – he’d simply let it lapse, even after walking away from Caterham. Would he really give Group Lotus, who caused him so much trouble over it (which must be at least part of the reason for his disillusionment with F1), the satisfaction of picking it up again for free? It would be nice to think that they could come to some kind of agreement – and then perhaps we might see a Team Lotus worthy of the name back in F1 – but as long as Proton retains an interest in the latter I can’t see it happening.

38

Quote from article:

“Carter says that his team has been working on two chassis designs for 2016, “We have two options for an engine next year: either we go with Mercedes or Renault. We are progressing along that route. We’ve got two designs for next year’s car and we are pushing forward with both options.”

“Lotus’ supply of Mercedes engines has already been allocated to Manor for next season, so the manufacturer would have to work some logistical miracles to supply a fifth team in the time scale.”

Does this mean Mercedes were telling the world a bunch of stupid excuses when they told the world that by supplying Manor they can’t supply Red Bull because they are full? Seems like it…. F1 politics is so nice, it’s the only sport in the world where the competitors act more like they are in a war than competing in a sport

39

Really? Moto GP proved itself to be quite the pacifist utopia recently didn’t it? And we all know football teams will gladly lend other teams a player or too in times of dire need.

40

Competition IS war, you’re trying to beat the other teams, just like in war, except there aren’t any deaths.

41

There is a difference between competition in sport and competition in war. In sport decisions are made in the best interest of the sport, in war those things don’t happen. Even in Football teams will agree to change things in the best interest of sport bit not in F1

42

You’re forgetting The America’s Cup. Imagine if every second Grand Prix ended in court? We may have to give Bernie his dues that F1 doesn’t operate like that yet.

But full marks to Manor. Were Mercedes sweating on having spare capacity for Lotus and having too few excuses to not supply Red Bull? Cue opportunistic back-markers for a quick engine deal. Did they get a discount too?

43

Exactly, who would Merc rather have running around with their name on the side… The weakest team in F1 or mid-fielders Lotus?

Clearly a political decision to make sure there was “no room at inn” for Red Bull.

44

A blessed relief for (the real) Lotus!

45
Clarks4WheelDrift

Hear hear, long live the real Lotus and Chapman, recent use of the name on track means nothing and the pretence it is continuing the historic real Lotus name is both a mistake and not required.

It’s like hearing a story that say, Kevin Magnussen has changed his name to Kevin Senna and bought some yellow spray paint for his helmet…

46

@ clarks etc etc….i am of the same opinion. it is all rather tiresome and a very sad effort. trying to resurrect the original name and in so doing emulate the teams values in the pantheon of the great teams, never worked. it couldn’t. we have all moved on and that part of F1 folklore should be left as is, consigned to history.

47

Lotus R.I.P after all the fiasco with Lotus F1 & Caterham F1.

Be a shame to once again retire the name Lotus.

Probably return at somepoint via another F1 team…depending on who own the the full rights to the name Lotus.

I assume you may get the possibility of Renault moving everything from Enstone to France ? if they wanted a clean break.

48

I’ll watch out for the Lotus name on Ebay…

49

I wonder how much Tony Fernandez will bid for it!

50

Who cares?

Contemporary ‘Lotus’ has no connection to Colin Chapman’s enterprise.

At least ‘Renault’ ain’t just a name.

51

Chapman’s team suffered a painful and drawn out end in the early 90s. The name went on the cars that became Caterham which was another indignity for it. It was like a flag of convenience for the Enstone team when Renault withdrew. It would be like bringing back Vanwall, or BRM or Tyrell. Or Honda. Oh… hang on.

52

+1

Genii Capital proved that you can buy a label for a lot of money, but you can’t buy the substance that brought former glory.

53

My thoughts exactly. The whole “Lotus” thing has been a bit of a sham from the start.

54

Same here. The REAL “Lotus” has been gone for some time now…

55

Get this done already people. My goodness, how much longer will this get stretched out Renault?

56

Please Renault don’t continue with that ridiculous yellow color scheme its never brought you luck. Most of the renault or renault powered cars that won championships were blue or had blue on them.

57

They only used Blue colours due to tobacco sponsorship that they inherited from Benetton, Yellow and Black are the corporate colours of Renault so it would be better suited.

58

Which will get sorted out first? Renault buying Lotus or Red Bull sorting out an engine deal?

59

Wow. You totally stumped me on this one. I’m frozen in indecisiveness. I can’t decide. It’s all about Bernie. I think he’s willing to give Renault the money if they give Red Bull the engine – so it will happen simultaneously in the end.

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