Bear with us on this one, since it may at first glance seem a little confusing. Renault who used to own and run the F1 team called Renault F1, pulled out of the sport at the end of the 2009 season at the peak of the economic downturn. Shortly after it was announced that Genii Capital, led by Gerard Lopez, had bought a majority stake in Renault F1 and it was this team which competed in the 2010 F1 season with drivers Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov.

This morning with the announcement of the partnership between Group Lotus and Genii Capital, Renault finally step back from being an F1 team owner into being purely a supplier of engines and technology. This new supply company will be called Renault Sport F1.

Got it? Easy eh?

So to further clarify what this means, let’s delve a bit deeper into the detail. Renault will be supplying engines to three of the teams on the grid in 2011:

  1. Lotus Renault GP: Renault will be supplying engines and technological support to Lotus Renault GP,
    the team that previously competed under the name of Renault F1 Team and with which it won two
    world championships in 2005 and 2006.
  2. Red Bull Racing Renault: the 2010 world champion has been using Renault engines for four
    seasons. Demonstrating its confidence in Renault, it has extended the partnership for a further two
  3. 1 Malaysia Racing Team (UK) Ltd: a new customer for Renault in 2011. This team made its F1
    debut in 2010. It has a sound technological base with the Renault engine and Red Bull Technology

Note the absence of any mention of ‘Team Lotus’ in reference to 1 Malaysia Racing.

With this decision to supply engines to three teams next season, Renault is returning to its core expertise in engine manufacturing and getting ready to meet the challenges of the future, particularly the new engine regulations to be introduced over the next few years.

Although details of the regulations are still under discussion, the main lines have emerged. The aims are for F1 innovations to serve progress in production vehicles, to showcase technologies that better respect the environment, to limit budgets, and to put on as spectacular a “show” as possible.

“2011 opens a new chapter in our historical involvement in Formula 1™ racing. The victory in 2010 with Red Bull Racing showed the potential of the engine specialists at Viry-Châtillon and underlines Renault’s credibility as a supplier of engines and technologies. We intend to build on this victory over the coming years and to achieve further success with our partners. Renault will adopt a proactive approach with other manufacturers and sporting bodies to meet one of the main strategic challenges of this sporting discipline: to develop an engine with technologies that will herald those applied to future production vehicles,” said Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Renault.

As well as supplying engines, Renault Sport F1 will conduct advanced research studies with its partners, as well as engineering programmes in areas such as transmissions and kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS).

So, it’s all change, but at the same time business as usual for Renault in F1. Renault will keep their name displayed prominently in F1, the spat between the two Lotus teams only serving to enhance Renault’s visibility and it can now focus its investment on technologies that more directly benefit its core business. Sounds like a good decision to me.