Lotus has ruled itself out of a potential sale to Renault, as the French car manufacturer continues to evaluate its Formula 1 plans.
Renault is considering whether to continue just supplying engines, increasing its brand presence by buying a team or pulling out of the sport altogether. A decision on its plans is expected over the new few weeks.
One possibility that was talked about was a buy-out of Lotus, even though the Enstone-based team’s long-standing relationship with the car maker came to an end last year.
However, speaking at a sports business conference in London, Lotus CEO Matthew Carter made it clear that his owners were not interested.
"I know that Renault are evaluating their role within F1 at the moment," Carter was quoted as saying by Reuters.
"I think they are from a fairly high level trying to decide whether they just make engines, whether they pull out of the sport altogether or whether they look at a works team.
"My shareholders have said quite specifically the team isn't for sale.”
Lotus’ withdrawal from the equation means that the most likely options for Renault are a tie-up with either Force India or Toro Rosso.
Speaking to the official F1 website, Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost continued to express his interest in a bigger deal with Renault.
“Toro Rosso have a lot to offer a manufacturer,” he said. “We have a proper infrastructure, we have a good technical team, and we have a lean structure.
“We want to finish in P5, and the next step would be to work together with a manufacturer or to become a manufacturer team - to become a real front-runner. There is no timeline on that - when [it happens], Red Bull and Renault decide.”