Lotus has reportedly moved into pole position to be taken over by the French manufacturer Renault.
Dissatisfied with its current status as mere supplier to Red Bull, the marque has been in talks with the energy drink company’s junior team Toro Rosso about a buyout.
But Dr Helmut Marko said last week that a sale to Renault is in fact not likely, as Red Bull wants to maintain is “close relationship” with Toro Rosso.
He said the “more likely” scenario is that Toro Rosso simply takes on a “yellow livery to have a better marketing platform” for Renault.
“But of course the figures have to correspond,” added Marko.
It now appears that Renault is looking elsewhere.
Writing on his blog f1-insider.com, Ralf Bach claims Renault has EUR 30 million to spend on buying into a team, with former Mercedes chief Bob Bell put in charge of the discussions.
German correspondent Bach wrote: “The options are Lotus, Force India, Toro Rosso and Sauber.”
In Malaysia, Force India and Lotus played down the Renault rumours, with Lotus chief executive Matthew Carter saying: “Lotus isn’t for sale. We’re not looking for a buyer.
“We’ve just signed a long-term deal with Mercedes-Benz which takes us through to 2020, so any talk of any change of engine or change of ownership is completely off the cards,” he insisted.
However, a source says the Enstone-based team is actually the one now favoured by Renault advisor Bob Bell.
“That’s because Bell’s house is just 15 minutes from the Lotus factory,” the source is quoted as saying.
Indeed, Bell knows Lotus extremely well, having worked at Enstone throughout the Benetton and works Renault period. He was even team boss for a time in 2009 in the wake of the ‘crash-gate’ scandal.
Bach reported that Sauber is “too expensive” for Renault, while the EUR 30 million would not even buy the yellow livery being offered by Toro Rosso. (GMM)