Renault says to make full F1 return in 2016

Thu Dec 3, 2015 6:00pm EST
 
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By John Irish

PARIS (Reuters) - Renault will return to Formula One as a constructor next year after signing key contracts on Thursday to acquire the struggling Lotus team.

Announcing the move, a big boost for the sport after months of uncertainty, the French carmaker's chief executive Carlos Ghosn said he wanted the team to be competitive by 2019.

"Renault had two options: come back 100 percent or leave completely," he said in a statement. "After detailed analysis, I made my decision: Renault will be present in Formula One from 2016."

Renault signed a letter of intent in September to take a controlling stake in British-based Lotus, the team it previously owned but sold in late 2009 after a race fixing scandal involving the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Lotus, who employ some 480 staff at their factory in Prime Minister David Cameron's constituency near Oxford, have struggled financially and were facing legal action and possible administration over unpaid taxes.

They had been due back in the London High Court next Monday.

Ghosn said work was under way to implement as quickly as possible the agreement concerning the acquisition, and key contracts had been signed on Thursday.

"Lotus appeared the best team to partner. We've known each other for 15 years and we were world champions together in 2005 and 2006," the statement said.   Continued...

 
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of the Renault-Nissan Alliance speaks during a question and answer session organised by the Japan Chamber of Commerce in Tokyo July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Thomas Peter