The Lotus Renault Formula 1 team is poised to forge much closer ties with Group Lotus, with sources suggesting the squad's owner Gerard Lopez (LEFT) is to take a financial stake in the auto manufacturer.
With moves under way to rebrand and rename the team as Lotus in 2012, a full integration of the F1 group and the British-based car maker appears to be in the cards. High level sources at Lotus have revealed that Lopez and his Genii Capital company has held advanced talks with Group Lotus' Malaysian owners about taking a management and financial interest in the company, which could even go as far as him taking a majority shareholding.
Such a move could result in Lopez and Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar working together closely to push the Lotus brand in both F1 and the road car business. Bahar has openly talked of a five-year scheme to turn Group Lotus into a profit-making car company, and part of that effort has been a ramp-up of marketing – which has included an expanded motorsports program.
For this season, Group Lotus took title sponsorship of the Renault team, as the first step towards the company taking a stake in the team if it could be renamed as well. A request to change the Renault name to Lotus for 2012 is to be discussed at a planned meeting of the Formula 1 Commission on Nov. 3.
Interestingly, both Renault team boss Eric Boullier and Bahar hinted that a move for closer ties between the F1's outfit owners and Group Lotus was imminent. Boullier said about the possibility of Genii Capital taking over Group Lotus: "It is another rumor. I like this one."
Speaking to RACER's sister publication Autocar Bahar said: "I can only say this: When we made the announcement about our involvement in Lotus Renault GP we made it clear that this was the start of a close relationship and this journey continues."