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Pieces fall into place at 11th hour: Renault takeover of Lotus set for positive outcome

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Pieces fall into place at 11th hour: Renault takeover of Lotus set for positive outcome
Nov 29, 2015, 7:22 PM

It has been a roller coaster ride behind the scenes in the last few weeks in the saga of the Renault takeover of Lotus and earlier this weekend it ...

It has been a roller coaster ride behind the scenes in the last few weeks in the saga of the Renault takeover of Lotus and earlier this weekend it looked like it might be off. But as the teams head away from the final round in Abu Dhabi, all the signals are that the deal has been agreed and that it will be announced at the middle to end of next week.

Money has been the sticking point for some time between Renault and F1's commercial rights holders, Bernie Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners; specifically the amount of prize-fund money Renault was entitled to for its history in the sport and its two world titles in 2005 and 2006, which qualify it for a payment from the so called 'CCB fund'. This is the fund that distributes $100m up front to Ferrari, $70m to Red Bull and now Mercedes as well as smaller payments to McLaren and Williams.

Jerome Stoll, Cyril Abiteboul

Red Bull boss Christian Horner confirmed that he signed a contract three weeks ago for a supply of engines - without specifying that these will be Renaults - but that deal complicated the negotiations with Ecclestone and things came to a head this weekend.

By committing to the deal with Red Bull, before it had agreed a figure with Ecclestone, Renault weakened its negotiating position. The deal meant that he had one of the main things he wanted which was the continuation of Red Bull teams in F1. Toro Rosso is going to use 2015 Ferrari engines, but had the main Red Bull team quit the sport, the junior outfit would have followed.

Renault is charging Red Bull €30m for a supply of four engines per driver plus test units for the pre-season and Ecclestone was reluctant to make a CCB payment on the level Renault were seeking in addition to the money that Red Bull was being charged.

Renault's management reportedly played hard ball even threatening to leave F1 completely, which could mean reneging on the Red Bull deal. This was the low point of the weekend where the deal appeared to be off. Jerome Stoll, the president of Renault Sport was prominent in the F1 paddock all weekend.

Cyril Abiteboul, Jerome Stoll

But sources say that agreement was reached in the last 48 hours and Lotus' staff at Enstone should be able to breath a sigh of relief when the takeover is announced. Renault staff have been working at Enstone for some months now, despite the lack of a completed contract.

At the same time Ecclestone and the FIA's desire to tame the motor manufacturers is apparent; they hold too powerful a position in F1 at present and the moves from Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt lately have been about trying to tame that ahead of the next round of Concorde Agreement negotiations post 2020.

The proposal to introduce a new spec budget engine to F1 was kicked into the long grass by the F1 Commission last week, but discussions have been ongoing towards simplifying and improving the hybrid turbo engine formula from 2018 onwards, so avoid a repeat of the things that have been negative about the last two seasons: the cost of the engines, the problems with supply that left Red Bull without a supplier and the lack of noise.

Red Bull F1

Cyril Abiteboul has had a tough few weeks particularly with the setback over the Red Bull deal, but he summed up the season, in which Red Bull Renault failed to win a race for the first time since 2008, this way: "Fourth in the championship for Red Bull is no doubt hard to accept and we all share that responsibility. At Toro Rosso, the championship position may not be as hoped, but with more than double the points of 2014, it’s been a strong year overall for them and we are proud to have worked together to achieve this.

"At the end of a very challenging season, both on and off track, I would like to thank everyone at Viry-Châtillon for their hard work. At the start of the year when we came under fire it would have been easy to lose motivation, but all have kept their heads down and kept development on track. We have not reached the targets we set for ourselves, but I hope this year will be seen as an aberration to our usual good form."

The story of Lotus' transition to Renault is one of the topics covered in the JA on F1 2015 Season Review, a 52 page A4 souvenir magazine, which is available now to pre-order.

It will be published and dispatched on 10th December.

The Review is a collectible and an ideal Christmas stocking filler for F1 fans looking to fill the gap during the off-season.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 13.37.37

As well as reflecting on the big stories from the year, the Review covers the key topics including the renaissance of Ferrari, it reveals which was the best chassis in 2015 and examines how Lewis Hamilton’s three world championships compare to the greats of the sport who reached the same milestone.

James Allen picks his Top 5 Drivers of the season, there is analysis of the mess the sport got itself into over engines in 2015 and popular rookie Carlos Sainz answers burning questions from fans about his breakthrough season alongside Max Verstappen at Toro Rosso.

The JA on F1 2015 Season Review costs £5-99 and is available to post anywhere in the world.

To make sure you don’t miss out click on this link below to order your copy now!

JA on F1 2015 Season Review

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 13.31.30

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