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Lotus confirm Renault F1 engine deal

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport in Sao Paulo

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen's 12th place in Japan is the team's best 2010 finish

The Lotus team have finally confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in Formula 1 - that they will use Renault engines next season.

The deal was agreed, and reported by BBC Sport, in September but an announcement was made only on Friday.

But it is widely believed in F1 that the team will not be called Lotus in 2011 after a naming rights dispute.

Also on Friday, Red Bull announced they would continue with Renault engines for the next two years.

Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes agreed a deal to use the Lotus name in F1 this year with the owner of Lotus Cars, the Proton car company.

606: DEBATE

He has since - as exclusively revealed by BBC Sport in September - bought the rights to the historic name of the outfit in F1 - Team Lotus.

But Proton have challenged Fernandes' rights to use the name, and the dispute has reached into high levels in Malaysian politics. The country's former prime minister, Dr Mahatir Bin Mohamad, has stepped in to try to resolve it.

Both Lotus Racing and Proton have said they will make no further comment on the issue until it is resolved.

It is expected that Fernandes will be forced to abandon the Lotus name, and that Proton will buy into the Renault team, which may be renamed Lotus-Renault.

Lotus Racing's media release announcing the Renault deal did not mention the word Lotus, other than in the official team branding.

Fernandes said the Renault deal was an indication of his ambitions to succeed in F1.

He said: "2010 has been all about building up our team from scratch and in just one year we have laid the foundations for many exciting seasons to come and the partnership with Renault will dramatically accelerate our development plans, both on and off track.

"That is an important point - we have started a partnership with Renault and, much like taking on experienced drivers in our first year, we will be working with people who know how to win and who will help push us even further forward towards the front of the grid.

"We are realistic - we know what needs to be done to be challenging for ultimate honours in F1 and this partnership will play a very important role in helping us push ahead."

Lotus are expected they will continue with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen as drivers in 2011.

They have signed a deal to combine their Renault engines with Red Bull's gearbox and hydraulics.

Lotus, who were new to F1 this year, have had to negotiate a release from their three-year contract with Cosworth to secure the Renault deal.



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see also
Lotus agree Renault engine switch
13 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus revive original team name
12 Sep 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus prioritise long term plan
26 Aug 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus set for Renault engine deal
12 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Lotus keen to upset establishment
14 Jun 10 |  Formula 1


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