Renault closing in on Lotus take-over decision

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Ongoing discussions between Renault and the Lotus F1 team are expected to come to a head this week on the back of a crucial management meeting conducted yesterday at the manufacturer's headquarters in Boulogne, near Paris.

F1i understands that group CEO Carlos Ghosn may have been submitted a comprehensive takeover plan of the British F1 team by Renault Sport director Cyril Abiteboul and the constructor's ambassador Alain Prost.

The project would entail Renault either taking over control of Lotus through a majority purchase of stock owned by holder Genii Capital, or acquiring simply the team's Enstone assets and therefore entering F1 as a new manufacturer.

The second alternative appears more probable, given the nature of Lotus' debt, the majority of which represents loans from parent company, the Genii Group. The scenario also supports the timing of the FIA's decision last week to extend the deadline for parties interested in securing a future Formula 1 entry, and which may have been motivated by the necessity to allow more time for Renault's Carlos Ghosn to reach clarity on the constructor's Grand Prix future.

It is also understood that should Renault enter F1 as a new team, it may be granted 'historic' manufacturer status by Bernie Ecclestone's FOM and therefore made eligible for extra payments based on its past performance and historical record in F1. A gainful incentive which Ghosn will naturally take into consideration.

Should the French manufacturer's plans to field a full works come to fruition, F1i understands Cyril Abiteboul would act as Team Principal while former quadruple World Champion Alain Prost would endorse a non-executive role similar to that of Niki Lauda at Mercedes.

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