Amidst confusion as to the current ownership structure of Lotus Renault GP – the team formerly known as Renault F1 – team principal Eric Boullier has spoken out to affirm that Group Lotus does not in fact own any of the operation, and that it is wholly controlled by Gérard Lopez's Luxembourg-based Genii Capital investment company.
It had previously been rumoured – and ostensibly confirmed by ambitious CEO Dany Bahar – that Group Lotus owner Proton was set to purchase the remaining 25 per cent stake still owned by Renault from the French manufacturer, but Boullier has revealed that the shares in question were actually sold to Genii Capital, which consequently now owns the Enstone-based outfit outright.
“Renault decided to refocus its resources in F1 and sold its remaining 25 per cent to Genii Capital,” the Frenchman told Italian magazine Autosprint
, adding that the long-term sponsorship agreement with Group Lotus may 'lead to Lotus Cars becoming a shareholder' at a later date.
As part of the new relationship, 25 Proton engineers will be posted to Lotus Renault GP on two-year work placements – not unlike the situation at Sauber when Petronas was the Swiss operation's title backer from 1997 to 2005 – whilst Group Lotus will conduct some development work on the car, with Boullier musing that 'it's a good way to get fresh ideas and a new way of thinking'.
How the fact that Group Lotus owns none of Lotus Renault GP will go down in the High Court next week remains to be seen, as Bahar endeavours to obtain a summary judgement in the embarrassing ongoing naming row with Tony Fernandes and Team Lotus.
Fernandes is seemingly under some pressure in Malaysia to back down, but the major issue for Bahar is that it is the 'other' Lotus that has established the loyal fan base off the back of a plucky maiden campaign of top flight competition in F1 2010 – and as things stand, there looks to be every possibility of there being four Renault-powered Lotus cars lining up on the starting grid for the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in mid-March.