Lotus has finalized its switch to Renault engines for 2011 after finally signing its deal for a supply of the French powerplants. Although the Hingham, UK-based team had been widely expected to make the move after agreeing an early end to its contract with Cosworth, the deal was held up amid the row over the renaming of the team next year.
With Group Lotus threatening legal action against the team for its use of the Team Lotus moniker, sources suggest that Renault did not want to finalize its deal until there was better clarity on the issue. Despite there being no official resolution of the naming rights, it is believed that enough progress has been made between the two Lotus parties on the issue that Renault was happy to commit to its supply deal.
It is understood that discussions that have taken place in Korea this weekend have been productive enough to help seal the contract. The deal will not be announced just yet, but AUTOSPORT reports sources close to the French car manufacturer suggest it will most likely be made at the Brazilian Grand Prix next month.
Renault team principal Eric Boullier said earlier in the weekend that it was currently too early to announce his company's plans, but said it was keen to provide engines to another team.
"It's a bit too early," he said. "If we haven't announced anything yet it means we have not signed anything yet, regarding the supply to more teams. I think that maybe in the future, yes, Renault would wish to supply another team."
Sealing the Renault deal will be a huge relief to Lotus, which has already agreed a deal for a supply of Red Bull Racing's gearbox and transmission for next year – a setup that is only compatible with a Renault engine. It will also help provide a big competitive step forward next season, giving the team the same rear-end as current title frontrunners Red Bull Racing.