Renault has moved a step closer its takeover of Lotus and the return of a works Formula 1 team, after revealing that it has signed a letter of intent regarding a purchase of the outfit.
Following weeks of uncertainty about the deal, and with a looming High Court appearance for Lotus on Monday brought by HMRC, the news is a huge boost to the Enstone outfit.
It should allow the team and engine manufacturer the time frame it needs to put the finances of the deal in place, and herald the potential return of a works Renault outfit to F1.
The statement said: "Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a Letter of Intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.
"The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault's first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to world's premier motorsport championship series.
"Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties."
FOM money key
Although negotiations with Lotus had reached an advanced stage in recent weeks, the final hurdle was believed to relate to extra commercial rights income from FOM.
While it is thought that it has not been given all it wanted up front, it is understood that F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has agreed a compromise deal that will allow Renault to put together the finances it wants over the longer term.
Once the final green light to the purchase of Lotus is agreed, the team can focus on which driver will partner Pastor Maldonado next year as replacement for Romain Grosjean, who is on his way to Haas.