Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has sent his heartfelt thanks to Renault as the French marque’s partnership with the Enstone F1 operation prepares for its final race in Abu Dhabi next weekend.
Renault first joined forces with the Enstone-based team in 1995, when it was then known as Benetton. That year, Michael Schumacher claimed his second title, marking a good start for the partnership.
In 2001, Benetton was bought out by Renault and turned into a works team for 2002, yielding world championships in 2005 and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. Renault took a step back from the operation in 2009 before the team was eventually rebranded as “Lotus F1 Team” for 2012.
Last month, Lotus announced that it would be switching for Mercedes power units for 2015, bringing the 20 season relationship with Renault to an end in Abu Dhabi.
“I think that everyone associated with the team will recall the great days of 1995 and then again in 2005 and 2006 when the titles were won with Michael and Fernando,” Gastaldi said. “Renault Sport has been valued partners and we shared an intricate and evolving partnership. All good things come to an end, as they say, and for 2015 we go our separate ways.
“As with any long-term partnership there were good and bad times. We have many friends at Renault Sport for we genuinely thank them for their expertise during a very long association.”
After finishing fourth in the constructors’ championship last season, 2014 has seen Lotus come back down to earth with a bump, scoring just ten points and failing to finish any higher than eighth in a race. In the off-season, Gastaldi is anticipating a lot of work to ensure that there is no repeat of this in 2015.
“We will leave no stone unturned going in to 2015,” he said. “The pain of 2014 will only inspire us to make sure it does not happen again. For the race teams there will of course be some time to refresh, but straight away we will all be back at the factory and pushing the limit for 2015.
“There will be a lot of work packaging the new Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrain unit as well as the other production, build and then testing and development phases. It will be an exciting time and a genuine fresh page in the history of the team.”