Renault is to return to Formula 1 as a constructor soon after deciding that it will take more than the Lotus team.
The French vehicle giant had been debating the decision as lately as final weekend but is now committed.
Chairman Carlos Ghosn stated: “We had two possibilities: come back 100% or leave. Following a detailed study, I decided Renault will be in F1 from 2016.”
Renault stated its takeover of Lotus had not but been completed but will be accomplished “in the shortest timeframe attainable”.
Nonetheless, the firm added that the “principal contracts had been signed” on Thursday.
The move ends months of speculation and secures the future of the team based in Enstone in Oxfordshire, which has in its history won 4 globe titles, two as Benetton with Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995, and two as Renault with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
Renault sold the team to investment group Genii Capital at the end of 2009 soon after deciding to quit as a constructor but remained involved as an engine builder.
Ghosn has decided that Renault will be greatest served by operating its personal group, a conclusion reached following the breakdown of its partnership with Red Bull.
Renault and Red Bull won 4 world driver and constructor doubles collectively from 2010-2013 but tension grew following the engine builder’s inability to produce a competitive energy-unit under the new turbo hybrid formula introduced at the start off of 2014.
Red Bull had a contract with Renault until the end of 2016 but broke this off in the summer season in order to seek a different engine.
But following becoming rejected by Mercedes and Honda and failing to secure a satisfactory deal with Ferrari, Red Bull will once more use Renault engines next season, but as a client not a factory partner.
Red Bull’s Renault engines will be offered a distinct name in order to distance the team from Renault. The former champions hinted on Thursday that they would be branded right after their new sponsor, the luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer.
Renault’s get-out of Lotus was in doubt as recently as Saturday following a row over prize cash with F1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone.
But an agreement was reached at the 11th hour and that was enough to convince Ghosn to go through with the deal, which sources say commits Renault to F1 till 2024.
Ghosn mentioned: “The final specifics supplied by F1’s primary stakeholders gave us the self-confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win – even if it will take some time.”
The selection to return with its own group was based on the lack of exposure Renault received despite its success with Red Bull.
A Renault statement said: “As a complete group, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be restricted.
“The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image have been low.”
Renault employees have been working with Lotus for some months on the presumption the takeover would sooner or later be completed.
Sources say skilled engineer Bob Bell, who was technical director of globe champions Mercedes till the finish of final season, is to take on a function overseeing each the chassis design operation in the UK and the Renault Sport engine facility in Viry-Chatillon close to Paris.
Bell, who was managing director of Renault F1 just before moving to Mercedes, has currently held meetings with Renault and Lotus staff as the team plan the construct of subsequent year’s automobile.
The Renault drivers for subsequent season will be Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and British rookie Jolyon Palmer, who was the Lotus reserve driver this season. Each drivers had been signed by Lotus while the Renault takeover was still in doubt.
The role of group principal is expected to be taken by Frenchman Frederic Vasseur, the boss of the effective ART team in the GP2 feeder category.