D-Day came and went, as Lotus attended the High Court in London for the final time. Renault confirmed they had taken control of Gravity Motorsports, the Genii holding company for the Enstone F1 team, though the deal is rumoured not to be an outright purchase.
Renault’s legal representatives confirmed to Justice Birrs, “We have the keys, so to speak.” The judge then dismissed the claim from HMRC who were claiming £2.7million of unpaid tax from Lotus F1. The team’s CEO, Matthew Carter explained, “Everything has all gone through and is all completed. The payments to the creditors were released late last week. “Today was effectively just a simple box-ticking exercise.”
Renault had confirmed via a statement over the weekend that the takeover of the Lotus F1 team was complete and the interim management of the company will see Jerome Stoll take up the position of chairman, and Cyril Abiteboul as managing director. This appears to leave Matthew Carter out in the cold and it may be that the Enstone Technical Director, Nick Chester, is on his way out too.
Bob Bell is in place to strengthen the management team and the word is that there could be a return for Former Toyota and Caterham boss Mike Gascoygne.
Alain Prost, who was influential in persuading Carlos Ghosn that Renault should return to Formula One as a works team, admitted the road had been long and hard. “It was difficult, for sure,” he said admitting it had been a “fight” to win the argument that Renault should be more than an F1 power unit supplier.
The French quadruple world champion explained the difficulty in changing Ghosn’s mind. “It was a long decision because of what happened you know, the relationship with Red Bull.” Prost added, “So it was quite a big commitment. You need to understand that they had to take their time to decide what to do. We all know in this company maybe it takes time, but when they are committed, it is going to be okay.”
TJ13 believes that Alain Prost is now set to take up a similar role at Renault to the one occupied by Niki Lauda at Mercedes. He has been key in driving forward Renault’s renewed commitment to Formula One in a deal with Ecclestone that has been reported to run until 2024.