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On The Grid: Lotus Renault
Two of the oldest racing brands in motorsport come together
Posted Jul 21, 2011 by Chris White
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The Renault Formula One team, or Lotus Renault GP as they are now registered, have competed in the championship in various forms and under various names since 1977, recording constructors’ and drivers’ championships in 2005 and again in 2006, with Fernando Alonso the victorious driver on each occasion before moving to McLaren.
Despite proving to be one of the most successful teams in the championship, Renault withdrew at the end of the 1985 season due to financial issues within the company, forcing them to scale down their involvement in motor sport, leaving them uncompetitive and unreliable, so bosses withdrew the team from the championship.
The team returned to the championship in 2002, completing a buyout of the Benetton team, and progression over the next couple of years lead to Alonso’s back-to-back titles. At the end of the 2009 campaign, the Renault company sold a 75% stake in the team to the Genii Capital investment company, while the remaining 25% share was sold to Genii the following year, who then decided to enter into a partnership with Group Lotus, so the team is now a Lotus racing team, using Renault engines. Two of the most successful racing companies in history joining together which is very exciting.
The team began racing under the Lotus name with Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov as the drivers. After a pretty disappointing season in 2010, there were rumours circulating that Kimi Raikkonen would be brought in to replace Petrov, but these failed to come to fruition and the team kept faith with Petrov. However, in February this year, Kubica was severely injured in a rally accident and very nearly lost several limbs, with particular damage done to his right hand. As a result, Lotus Renault were forced to find a replacement driver for the 2011 season, and chose the experienced German Nick Heidfeld.
The team currently sit in fifth place in the constructors’ championship, with 65 points, just behind the Mercedes GP team, with Heidfeld eighth in the drivers’ standings, one position above his teammate Petrov. Last time out, at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Heidfeld finished eighth while Petrov came home in twelfth.