Sat, Sep 26, 2015 - Page 20 News List

Lotus in balance as F1 waits on Renault

Reuters, SUZUKA, Japan

The fate of the Lotus Formula One team hung in the balance yesterday, with the risk of administration looming and even the sport’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone unsure whether Renault would ride to the rescue.

“Apparently Renault are going to take over Lotus — apparently. This is what has been foreseen. Whether it will be completed, I don’t know,” Ecclestone, 84, said by telephone from London.

“If they don’t complete it [the takeover] by Monday or put some money in soon ... unless Renault come to the party, it won’t happen,” he added.

Asked whether he felt Renault would step up, or whether there was an element of wishful thinking on the part of the Lotus owners and the 400 factory employees, Ecclestone said he did not know.

“It’s strange that a company as large as Renault are taking such a long time to make a decision, to be honest with you,” he said. “They’ve been waiting for us to make a contribution to give them a reason to do something, which we’ve done two weeks ago. So I don’t know.”

Media reports have indicated that Renault want “heritage” payments and status that would put them on a par with Mercedes as a reward for their contribution to the sport over the years.

These would be in exchange for a long-term commitment to the sport, something major car companies have been reluctant in the past to sign up to.

“They wanted the same sort of deal as Mercedes and some money. So we tried to work it out. We got a calculator and worked out what nine years would be,” Ecclestone said.

“What we’ve done for them is not anything that we need to do, or had to, but we’ve done it to try and be helpful and keep Renault in Formula One. Our agreement is with Renault and not with Lotus,” he said.

Lotus are due back in the London High Court on Monday to face demands from British revenue and tax authorities to have the team placed in administration as a result of unpaid taxes.

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