2016 marks Renault’s full return to Formula 1 as a constructor after six years away, coming at a time when manufacturers have been uneasy about entering the series or increasing their involvement.
The decision to buy Lotus was far from an easy one. Many months of negotiations eventually ended in a deal being signed in December, securing the future of the Enstone operation.
2016 will be a year for Renault to find its feet, but with an all-new driver line-up and engine improvements in the pipeline, it should not be a total write-off.
TEAM: Renault Sport Formula 1 Team
CAR: Renault R.S.16
2015 STATS (as Lotus)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Laps Led: 0
Drivers’ Championship Positions: 11th (Romain Grosjean); 14th (Pastor Maldonado)
Constructors’ Championship Position: 6th
20. Kevin Magnussen (DEN)
30. Jolyon Palmer (GBR)
2015 TEAM RECAP
The off-track financial troubles that Lotus faced in 2015 were juxtaposed by some outstanding on-track success. The arrival of Mercedes as a power unit supplier gave the team a real boost, while the E23 chassis was very solid. Romain Grosjean led the team’s charge, with the highlight being an unlikely podium finish at Spa on the same weekend bailiffs had been sent to the team’s garage. Pastor Maldonado picked up points every now and then to support Grosjean, but by the end of the year, the focus was on survival.
But survival is exactly what Lotus managed. Renault confirmed in December that it had taken over the team before immediately setting to work on rectifying the team. When Maldonado’s backing fell through, ex-McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen was drafted in to join 2014 GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer for his debut season. The lateness of the Renault deal may make the start of the year tough, but there is plenty of positivity at Enstone thanks to the stability offered by the French manufacturer. This year is unlikely to offer much in the way of success, but with two quick drivers and a reputation for building a good chassis, Renault will be hoping to be a part of the tight midfield fight.