Renault have confirmed their intention to remain in Formula One for the foreseeable future. However, as expected, they are to sell a large stake of the team - understood to be 80 per cent - to Genii Capital, a Luxembourg-based firm specialising in new technologies, brand management and motorsport. Renault F1 team president Bernard Rey said: "I am delighted to welcome Genii Capital as our new strategic partner as I am sure that their enthusiasm and business expertise will create a new dynamic for the team, the staff, and our partners." Both Renault F1 and Genii Capital have signed a letter of intent with regard to the sale, notably relating to the team's operational base in Enstone, with the deal to be concluded early next year.
Lopez is also co-founder and managing partner of Mangrove Capital Partners, one of Europe's leading venture capitalist firms, and who was also an early investor in Skype. As far as Renault are concerned, the new agreement allows them to retain their name, identity and core ingredients that resulted in the marque becoming world champions with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006. The team will continue to be supplied with engines by its sister company in Viry-Chatillon, Paris, with the manufacturer also announcing today a renewed commitment from Red Bull Racing for 2010. Rey added: "Altogether, we look forward to competing again at the highest level in Formula One.
"Today's announcement also confirms Renault's commitment and trust in the sport's governing bodies to improve the green credentials of Formula One. "With the ongoing evolutions of the F1 regulations, Renault will be able to entertain its fans, while promoting a leaner and sounder championship. "We will show Renault's skill when it comes to developing high-performance, fuel-efficient cars." Lopez, who is also involved in driver management via Gravity Sport Management, which looks after several promising young racers, said: "This is a period of opportunity for Formula One, not a period of uncertainty. "Formula One has an extraordinary level of global awareness that can be used to develop new business-to-business opportunities in traditional and developing markets, and there are exciting new revenue streams to be explored."
Eric Lux, the chief executive of Genii Capital, added: "Our long-term vision for this challenging venture aims to return Renault to the forefront of Formula One. "Together with Renault, we intend to run the team with the same values as any of our other investments, prioritising ambitious performance targets without neglecting cost efficiency. "We strongly believe that on-track performance can be compatible with business performance, and we will use all our entrepreneurial spirit and commercial know-how to achieve this goal." Genii Capital aim to provide Renault with the stability required given the volatile nature of the car market over the past 12 months that has resulted in Honda, BMW and Toyota all quitting F1.
Lopez, Lux and Genii Capital have beaten off competition from David Richards' Prodrive organisation, amongst others, who were initially the frontrunners to salvage Renault. It is the third time in the last few years the former Benetton and BAR team principal Richards has missed out on a return to Formula One. Richards, who is also chairman of Aston Martin, was due to enter in 2008 only for a change in regulations to scupper his plans. Richards then applied for an entry earlier this year when the FIA, motorsport's world governing body, announced their intention to expand the grid to 13 teams, only to be overlooked. With Renault retaining its place in F1, they avoid any potential sanctions after signing the new Concorde Agreement earlier this year confirming their intention to stay in the sport through to 2012. * PA Sport