Vasseur tipped to be boss of new Renault F1 team
Lotus sale edges closer to completion, amid speculation over new management structure
Frédéric Vasseur, boss of the ART GP2 team, is poised to lead Renault in their latest outing in F1. The 46-year-old Frenchman will take the helm once Renault’s purchase of Lotus is conrmed – which is only a matter of time, according to senior insiders.
Four-time champion Alain Prost, a Renault ambassador and advisor, will take a senior role, mirroring that of Niki Lauda at Mercedes. As a non-executive director Lauda has no authority to take decisions on his own, but advises team bosses Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe and the Mercedes board.
There is uncertainty over the role of current Renault Sport managing director Cyril Abiteboul, with rumours of friction between the three men who look to be earmarked for senior positions with the team.
Renault have signed a letter of intent to take back control of the team they sold to investment group Genii Capital at the end of 2009. There have been rumours that Renault president Carlos Ghosn had not signed off on the investment required to take control of Lotus, but he has agreed in principle to a ten-year commitment aimed at returning Renault to the front.
Renault’s purchase of a majority shareholding in the team – thought to be in the region of 65 per cent – is not believed to be in doubt. Mercedes only actioned their plan to supply Manor Marussia once they were condent that Lotus would not need their engines, since Mercedes and Renault have close ties at a corporate level and are engaged in several joint ventures. Lotus are now busy designing next year’s car around a Renault engine.
Meanwhile, talks between Renault and Lotus owners Genii Capital over the settlement of the team’s debt are dragging on. The sale price of the team is under debate, as is the length of the period over which the debts must be repaid.
ART’s Frédéric Vasseur is likely to head up the new Renault F1 team, with Alain Prost as an advisor