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Renault confirms works return to F1 in 2016 after Lotus takeover

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Renault has confirmed that it will return to Formula 1 in 2016 with its own team after finalizing the takeover of Lotus on Thursday.

Renault last raced in F1 as a works operation back in 2010 before selling to Lotus, but has remained in the sport as an engine supplier.

After a difficult 2015 season that saw it lock horns with Red Bull over the quality of its engines, Renault was known to be evaluating a change in its F1 interests, either by upscaling to a works operation or withdrawing altogether.

In September, Renault signed a letter of intent with a view to purchasing Lotus, but has only today confirmed that it will be going ahead with the deal and returning to F1 with its own team next year.

“Following the September announcement of the signing of a Letter of Intent with Lotus F1 Team, teams at Renault continued to evaluate the possibility of a return to Formula 1,” a statement reads.

“Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016.

“Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015.

“Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 Team have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.

“Renault’s decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand’s identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles.”

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn said: “Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016.

“The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win, even if it will take some time.”

The statement finished by saying: “In January, we will provide more detailed information about Renault’s F1 programme ahead of the 2016 championship that begins next March.”

Renault is set to race with confirmed drivers Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer in 2016.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).