Renault considering rival bids for team

Renault is at the centre of rival bids to take control of its Formula 1 team, AUTOSPORT has learned, as David Richards' Prodrive operation faces opposition from Luxembourg investment fund Genii Capital

Renault considering rival bids for team

The French car manufacturer's executive committee met in Paris yesterday to discuss the future plans for the team, ahead of a crunch board meeting next week.

It is understood that no formal decision was made about what to do, because it was felt that the rival bids need more consideration, but it is edging close to picking which way it wants to go.

A report that first emerged in French newspaper Le Parisien this morning, which has been confirmed to AUTOSPORT by sources close to the deal, has revealed that rather than Prodrive's bid being in co-operation with that of businessmen Gerard Lopez, as was initially suggested, they are in fact rivals.

Lopez's plans are being put together through his Genii Capital company, with co-operation from his business partner Eric Lux. The company has invested in a number of projects - including the Charlie Chaplin museum in Switzerland and the Gravity Sports Management company that looks after a number of drivers.

It is understood that Lopez's plan is for his company to take financial control of the team, but for it to remain Renault for at least another two years.

Sources have revealed that he intends to take between 75 and 100 per cent of the Renault team if his bid is successful. Furthermore, Lopez has agreed to incorporate the Renault Driver Development programme into his Gravity Sports Management company if he takes over the team.

Le Parisien suggests that Renault's CEO Carlos Ghosn favours this option for the future - especially because it has the blessing of Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

AUTOSPORT understands that although the executive committee did not make a formal decision about its plans for next year, it feels the Lopez bid is in pole position.

However, the situation is complicated by the fact that the current Renault F1 team management is believed to favour the bid being put together by Prodrive.

Richards' vast experience of running teams at all levels of motorsport would be valuable to Renault as it bids to return to the top in F1 - and it is believed his involvement would allow Renault the chance to withdraw its name from F1 and remain only as an engine supplier.

Ecclestone told The Times on Friday that he was confident a solution would be found to keep the Renault team in F1.

"We've got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out," he said. "We are in the middle of doing it now. I feel confident that we'll see Renault next year in Formula 1 under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that."

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