Proton has acknowledged that it is 'close' to an agreement to purchase the remaining 25 per cent of Renault's F1 outfit not owned by Gérard Lopez's Genii Capital organisation – and that 'a decision will be made soon'.
Proton's intention to assume partial control of the Enstone-based concern has been the key stumbling-block behind Tony Fernandes' stated desire to rename F1 2010 newcomer Lotus Racing with the iconic 'Team Lotus' moniker next season – a move that the AirAsia founder has now vowed to press ahead with regardless [see separate story – click here
] – given that the Malaysian manufacturer would likely enter the sport under its Group Lotus brand, a situation that could lead to confusion should there consequently be two Lotus entries on the grid.
Whilst it had previously been suggested that Proton's interest in Renault F1 was merely limited to title sponsorship, managing director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir has now confirmed that the company's designs are rather loftier than that.
“That's the intent,” he told Malaysian newspaper The Star
, when asked whether Proton is planning to buy out the remaining 25 per cent of the team. “Twenty-five per cent is something that we are discussing; it's still too premature to disclose the exact percentage, but it has to be a position where we can control our brand. We're close – just wait for a few days. A decision will be made soon.”