Renault have completed the first step of their planned takeover of the Lotus F1 team today, as they signed a formal letter of intent with the team.
Talks have been ongoing for several months concerning the potential takeover of the cash strapped team by Renault, and this latest move will likely help the Lotus team with it's impending final appearance in the high court regarding it's insolvency case with HMRC.
This latest news comes off the back of another difficult weekend for the Lotus team at last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. The team's air freight was late arriving at the Suzuka circuit thanks to late payments, with an outstanding hospitality bill of £27000 pounds leaving the team locked out of it's own hospitality unit all weekend.
Renault released a statement this Monday morning announcing the news. They said "Renault group and Gravity motorsport 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 LTD."
They continued with "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 the world's premier motorsport championship series."
This is a big first step for both Renault and the Lotus F1 team, as it appears increasingly likely that Lotus will be re-branded as the Renault F1 team from next year onwards. The next step will be formally completing the take over of the team, along with finding a driver to partner Pastor Maldonado. It appears lead driver Romain Grosjean is to leave the team to join the new Haas F1 team for next year.