Renault has announced and confirmed that the company will
return to Formula One form the 2016 season. Earlier in the year, there were
talks between the company and the cash-struck Lotus F1 team for Renault to buy
the team out and re-enter the sport as a works team.
Renault has had a 40 year long history in the sport with 12
constructor’s titles and help in winning 2 driver’s titles for Fernando Alonso
after returning to the sport as a works team in 2002 since their exit in 1985. In
2009, Renault sold a majority stake of its shares in the Enstone based team to
Group Lotus to be renamed Lotus Renault GP. But by the end of the 2011 season,
the company exited the sport as a works team but remained as an engine supplier
to various teams powering teams like 4 time championship winning Redbull, Torro
Rosso, Lotus, Williams & Caterham, since.
Since the V6 Turbo Hybrid Era of F1 began in 2014, Renault
engines haven’t been able to cope and supply the teams with reliable and
competitive motors, thus lost their dominance to Mercedes and their customers
like Lotus and Williams to Mercedes engines. In the midst of the 2015 season,
Renault also had a fall out with Redbull Racing, and their sister team Torro
Rosso for not being able to supply competitive and reliable power-units for the
teams. Redbull also stated that they will be terminating their collaboration
with Renault from 2016 and search for another engine supplier.
In September 2015, Renault and the Enstone based, Lotus F1
team announced the signing of Letter of Intent, to buy out the entity and
return to the sport again after careful evaluation.
Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault said “Renault had
two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. 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,”
Renault has confirmed that the principal contracts were
signed on December 3, 2015, as work continues on finalising the terms of
acquisition of Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The company concluded by stating that in
January, 2016, they will provide more information about their F1 programme
ahead of the 2016 championship that begins next March.