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Ecclestone finds Renault comeback decision delay strange

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Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone finds it strange that Renault is taking its time in deciding whether or not to return to the sport with a works team in 2016.

Renault’s commitment to F1 is set to change in 2016 following a turbulent two-year spell as Red Bull’s engine supplier after the technical regulation change in 2014.

The French marque will cut ties with Red Bull and its b-team, Toro Rosso, at the end of 2015, leaving it with two options: return to F1 with a works operation, or quit the sport altogether.

Talks with the ailing Lotus F1 Team have been held over the past few months, and it is looking increasingly likely that the old Renault F1 Team that last raced in 2009 will be revived at its former Enstone base.

However, no official announcement has been made, and with Lotus facing a court hearing on Monday in England that could see it slip into administration, time is of the essence.

Speaking to Reuters ahead of this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Ecclestone said that he was confused why Renault had taken so long to finalize given that Formula One Management had agreed to make a contribution to keep it in the sport.

“It’s strange that a company as large as Renault are taking such a long time to make a decision, to be honest with you,” Ecclestone said.

“They’ve been waiting for us to make a contribution to give them a reason to do something, which we’ve done two weeks ago. So I don’t know.

“What we’ve done for them is not anything that we need to do, or had to, but we’ve done it to try and be helpful and keep Renault in Formula 1. Our agreement is with Renault and not with Lotus.”

Ecclestone helped Lotus by allowing its crew into the canteen of the VIP Paddock Club on Friday at Suzuka after its hospitality unit was left empty, signalling just how grave the financial mire at Enstone has become.

In other Lotus-related news, Romain Grosjean is looking increasingly bound for the exit and a move to Haas F1 Team for 2016. The Frenchman is expected to be unveiled at the team’s Kannapolis base in the press conference that has been called for Tuesday next week.

Grosjean has made the best of the situation at Lotus in recent weeks, charging to his first podium finish in almost two years at the Belgian Grand Prix last month.

However, with the Renault deal taking its time to come together, it appears that Grosjean has decided that enough is enough, and is now hoping to use Haas as a springboard to a possible drive at Ferrari in 2017.

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.