Gastaldi: Renault employees already working at Lotus

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Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi has confirmed that Renault employees have been working at Enstone for over six weeks ahead of the French manufacturer’s takeover.

Renault signed a letter of intent ahead of a buy-out back in September following months of negotiations, and although a deal is still yet to be announced, the foundations for its return as a works team in 2016 are already being laid.

In Friday’s press conference ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix, Gastaldi said that the final decision will come from Renault, but that its presence is already being felt at Lotus.

“Well, that’s pretty much a call that has to be done from Renault,” Gastaldi said when asked about a final announcement.

“All the bits and pieces are there, yes. We do have people since Singapore working there already so when it will be announced is their call.”

Gastaldi gave further indication that the deal was all but done when asked what engine his team would be racing with in 2016, giving “Renault” as his firm reply.

However, as confirmed earlier this week by team CEO Matthew Carter, the deal is still yet to be struck, prompting Lotus to proceed with separate design plans for Mercedes-powered and Renault-powered cars.

Regardless of its engine supplier, Lotus will retain Pastor Maldonado for 2016 alongside Jolyon Palmer, who takes the seat vacated by Romain Grosjean after his decision to move to Haas.