Group Lotus will be back in Formula One in 2011 after Renault sold its last remaining stake in its team.
Renault sold a majority stake to Genii Capital last year and the sale of its remaining stake back to the private investment firm has allowed Group Lotus to buy into the team, with the Renault cars being re-branded Lotus Renault GP from 2011 and running with the iconic JPS black-and-gold livery.
The pair have entered into a “comprehensive strategic alliance”, according to an official statement.
Renault will stay on as an engine supplier to teams including Red Bull and the team that carried the Lotus name this season. With 2010’s Lotus F1 team being officially entered as Team Lotus for 2011, this means there will be two Lotus Renault teams on the grid - although only one will have works support.
The Group Lotus deal will run until 2017 and Renault is believed to have signed up for a multi-year engine supply deal.
Several of the five new sports cars revealed by Lotus at the recent Paris motor show featured KERS technology, and it is believed that Lotus will bring this tech to the F1 team, along with knowledge of building aerodynamically efficient, lightweight cars. Group Lotus is keen for its F1 involvement to help the development of its road cars.
Some of Genii’s other investments - lightweight braking systems, variable compression engine technology and on-board software systems – will also filter through to the Lotus road car range.
Genii says Lotus’s parent firm Proton will also be able to make use of “existing business relationships in Russia and other parts of the world, as a means to expand Proton's global reach”.
Proton chairman Dato' Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh said: “We know that Group Lotus has much to offer Formula One and vice versa. After careful consideration, we believe this arrangement will be fruitful, both from a commercial and marketing point of view."
Renault's continued involvement in F1 will be under a new company, called Renault Sport F1. As well as supplying engines to three teams, Renault Sport F1 "will conduct advanced research studies with its partners, as well as engineering programmes in areas such as transmissions and KERS".