Renault, Lotus Join Forces for 2011 F1 Season

Berlin, Dec 9 (DPA) The Renault Formula One team and the Lotus group are combining next season to race under the name Lotus Renault GP.

The team will race with the traditional black and gold livery that was last used when Lotus and Renault joined forces in the 1980s, a Renault F1 team statement said Wednesday.

The Lotus Renault GP is the successor to the Renault F1 team which finished fifth in the 2010 constructors' championship and enjoyed three podium finishes for Robert Kubica.

The partnership comes after Renault sold its remaining shares in the team to the Luxembourg private investment firm Genii Capital, which had bought a large stake in the team in December 2009.

Group Lotus will now become a major equity partner in Lotus Renault GP, which it will co-own with Genii Capital. The agreement will run until the end of the 2017 season.

The Lotus name had returned to Formula One in 2010 under licence from Group Lotus. But the new alliance marks the complete return of the British sports car manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of its parent company, Malaysia's Proton.

"With the continued support of Renault as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise, Lotus Renault GP enjoys a strong, stable platform for future success," a statement said.

Gerard Lopez, chairman of the Renault F1 team, said: "We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011.

"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."

The team based in Enstone, England has "been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future," he added.

Renault won the 2005 and 2006 world championships, and the French company will continue as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise.

"Reflecting this technological support, Lotus Renault GP will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name and Renault will enjoy pre-eminent brand exposure on the livery," the team said.

The new alliance could create confusion over the use of the Lotus name for next season. Lotus Racing, which used the Lotus name under licence in 2010, plans to continue racing in the 2011 F1 season, with team chief Tony Fernandes seeking the right to race as Team Lotus.

However, Group Lotus chief executive Dany Bahar said: "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."


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