If you thought it was confusing for Red Bull to own two F1 teams, you ain't seen nothin' yet. Emerging reports from the F1 paddock seem to paving the way for not one, but two teams under the Lotus-Renault banner.
The development stems from Renault's anticipated plan to scale back its F1 participation from full-fledged manufacturer team to engine supplier, like it was years ago. Renault recently sold the bulk of its F1 operation to Genii Capital, and if the automaker were to further downscale its involvement, Genii would be in the market for a new partner. According to reports, that partner could be Lotus.
This is where it gets a little tricky. As you're aware, the Lotus name is already on the grid, controversially licensed to a Malaysian team, which recently confirmed a deal to use Renault engines (and gearboxes from Red Bull, which also uses Renault engines) for next season. But that operation is not the Lotus that could potentially take Renault's place as the automaker behind the front-running F1 team.
Word has it that Lotus Cars – the British automaker, not the Malaysian outfit – could step in to Renault's shoes with a factory-backed F1 team in the same mold as Ferrari's or Mercedes GP. Color us intrigued, but then we'd have not only two Lotus teams on the grid, but two Lotus-Renault teams. That's bound to get confusing, but with closed-door discussions over said naming rights reportedly underway, sources expect the Malaysian team will drop the Lotus moniker next season.