Cyril Abiteboul has played down reports that Renault has now decided to buy Lotus. After a long period of obvious negotiations between the two sides, the rumour swept the Monza paddock on Sunday that a deal has finally been done. "As we sit here and talk, it is still not decided yet," Abiteboul, managing director of Renault Sport F1, told Speed Week.
However, there is now strong speculation that Red Bull and Renault will definitely split for 2016, even though it is not clear who Red Bull's next partner will be. For instance, earlier at the weekend it was said that Daimler - particularly its marketing department - had green-lighted a supply of Mercedes power for the energy drink-owned team for 2016. But now, Bild newspaper says: "We have learned that Red Bull will not get Mercedes engines in 2016."
The report said Red Bull officials met with Ferrari at Monza, "but there is no agreement yet". What appears more definite for now is that Renault will eventually do the Lotus deal. Abiteboul said: "Renault has had a leading role in formula one for many years, and we want to stay."
"The decision lies with the Renault Group and our president Carlos Ghosn. We are aware that the role of pure engine supplier is no longer desirable. The consequence is that either you leave altogether or you return with a factory team. I would personally be very sorry if Renault leaves F1. We have been connected to the sport in different ways for the past 38 years," Abiteboul added.
He also admitted that the delay in an improved engine specification for the Red Bull teams later this year, originally promised for Sochi, is connected to Renault's current deliberations. "Naturally, it depends on what we do in the future. If Renault decides to leave formula one, then we don't need to bring an improved engine," said Abiteboul. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing