In a widely-expected move, French automakers Renault have signed a Letter of Intent to take a majority, controlling stake in Formula One team Lotus, the automakers said in an official statement.
The British team have had significant financial trouble this year, and were widely reported to be going into administration. They also had issues with HMRC, the UK’s tax and revenue body, over non-payment of taxes, but renewed the contract of Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado, who brings sponsorship from his country’s oil company PDVSA.
It is expected in the UK’s high court to address these issues imminently, with a final hearing set for today, the 28th of September, 2015.
The French manufacturers released a statement this morning addressing the signing of the documents.
"Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports 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 Team Ltd," it said.
"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. Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties."
Lotus have had a slew of problems, most recently only a few days ago. The team were locked out of their hospitality centre on Friday ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix, and were forced to borrow hydraulic fluid from other teams in order to begin practice. Their driver Romain Grosjean is widely expected to leave the team at the end of the season for American team Haas F1, which is the newest team on the Formula One grid, gaining FIA approval earlier this year.
Renault has had a significant presence as a works team (one that manufactures its own power units) in F1 before, and saw Fernando Alonso win both his World Championships with the team.
They last raced as Renault F1 in 2010.