Lotus reveals Mercedes fallback plan

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Lotus CEO Matthew Carter admits that his team could still use Mercedes power in 2016 should the expected deal with Renault fall through.

The French manufacturer signed and issued a Letter of Intent signalling a Lotus takeover in late September, but negotiations have been dragging on ever since. Deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi recently told F1i that he did not have any concerns that the agreement might not be completed.

Speaking to the official Formula One website, Carter says his confidence of a Renault deal is also “very high”, with the two parties “working flat out to make sure” it does happen.

However, the Lotus CEO equally confesses that Enstone, which switched to Mercedes power in the wake of a torrid 2014 campaign with Renault, has been planning for both outcomes.

“We know that in business anything can happen and as long as there are no signatures on the documents the deal is not concluded,” said Carter.

“We have two options for an engine next year: either we go with Mercedes or Renault. We are progressing along that route. We’ve got two designs for next year’s car and we are pushing forward with both options.

“But that is a rather unlikely option that we will go into the 2016 season with a Mercedes engine. And if we were to, yes, that would mean that the Renault deal felt flat. But my strong guess is that it will be a Renault engine next year.”

If the deal does materialise, the Lotus CEO also discloses that Renault would “hold controlling interest and run the team as a manufacturer’s team, like Ferrari and Mercedes are doing at the moment.”

However, contrary to what French publication Auto Hebdo reported last week, Carter reveals that the new owners will not keep the Lotus moniker in 2016.

“If the deal with Renault goes through, then the team will not be called Lotus – the name will fall out of Formula One. Right now we have a license to use the name Lotus – and that license will be terminated. So someone else could go for that name!”

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