Renault will power back to the front in formula one with a Mercedes-like annual budget. That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, following the announcement late last week that the French carmaker has decided to definitely buy Lotus.
It should mean the struggling Enstone team's court date over unpaid tax bills on Monday is a mere formality. That is because Renault will reportedly return to full works status with a Mercedes-like budget in the range of EUR 200 to 250 million per year.
But the carmaker has been smart about the acquisition. It has retained Gerard Lopez as a shareholder, and secured $70-80 million from Bernie Ecclestone in recognition of Renault's 'historic' status -- meaning Renault is not actually forking out a dollar of its own to buy Lotus.
Not only that, it will get EUR 30 million from Red Bull next year for the Tag Heuer-branded engine deal, while taking back the former quadruple world champions' title sponsor Infiniti, a luxury division of Nissan. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed: "This new agreement (with Renault) does not cover any marketing activity for the Renault-Nissan alliance. We wish Infiniti all the best with their plans for the future."
Moreover, Renault is expected to also run Total-branding in 2016, while pocketing the millions brought to the team by the heavily PDVSA-backed Pastor Maldonado. 2016, however, will be a transitional year, with Lopez saying next year's car will be effectively "a Lotus-Mercedes with a Renault engine". (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing