Renault has officially confirmed it will return to Formula 1 as a fully-fledged constructor in 2016 with a takeover of the Lotus F1 team.
The French manufacturer has been deliberating over whether to upscale its F1 involvement from engine manufacturer to constructor for several months now following a breakdown in relations with the Red Bull Racing team it won four world titles with.
The deal is set to see Renault back control of the Enstone-based team, five years after the manufacturer previously sold a majority stake of its erstwhile manufacturer effort to the Genii Capital group, which would eventually rebrand the team as Lotus. However, it says final terms are yet to be entirely finalised.
According to CEO Carlos Ghosn, Renault faced a decision to leave F1 or upgrade its involvement and, after detailed analysis, opted to stay, regarding its current role as an engine supplier 'limited' in terms of return relative to the expense of competing.
“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.”
It is believed the deal was repeatedly delayed as Renault negotiated with Bernie Ecclestone over 'historical payments' as compensation for the manufacturer's legacy in the sport, though this is believed to have been finally agreed in recent days.
“As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories,” read a statement. “The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.
“Renault's decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand's identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles. Passion defines Renault as expressed by its brand signature, 'Passion for Life'. In addition to attracting many customers, Formula 1 also fuels employee motivation.
“As the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 demands technological and operational excellence. The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.
Lotus had already announced its drivers for the 2016 season, despite the uncertainty over the Renault deal, with Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer forming its line-up. However, more details about Renault's programme will be made in 2016, a statement reads.
During its previous stint as a constructor, which grew out of the Benetton team, Renault secured two world titles in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso at the wheel.