The Renault team are set to become known as Lotus Renault GP next season after agreeing a title-sponsorship deal with Group Lotus that will run until 2017. Following the return of the Lotus name to Formula One in 2010, under licence from Group Lotus to Lotus Racing, the announcement marks the complete return of the British sportscar manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of parent company Proton.
Group Lotus will also become major equity partners in the Renault team with current owners Genii Capital, as part of a strategic alliance between the two companies that will provide Group Lotus with significant technological and commercial opportunities for its range of road cars. Renault will continue to support the team as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise.
“We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011,” commented Gerard Lopez, Chairman of the Renault team. “It is extremely exciting to begin a new era for the team in partnership with Group Lotus, and we will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons. It is a tribute to the excellent work this year by the team in Enstone that we have been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future.”
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: “I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing. We’re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back.”
The new partnership has been enabled by French car giant Renault selling its remaining shares in the team to Genii Capital. Group Lotus will subsequently become co-owner of the team with Genii Capital. They will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name and Renault will enjoy pre-eminent brand exposure on the car.
For 2011, the team plan to race in a new interpretation of the iconic black and gold colours that were last used when Lotus and Renault joined forces in the 1980s. This livery has been on the drawing board for over two months in order to reinterpret its iconic graphic signature to suit modern media requirements.
Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes’ Malaysian-backed squad that returned the Lotus name to Formula One under license this season, will continue to compete next year, switching from Cosworth to Renault power. The 2011 championship entry list published by the FIA last week listed them under the team name of Team Lotus.