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Renault in talks with Force India Formula 1 team over buy-in deal

Renault has held talks with Force India to investigate the possibility of acquiring a majority stake in the Formula 1 team, AUTOSPORT has learned

The French manufacturer is evaluating its long-term options beyond its current engine supply deal with Red Bull and Toro Rosso that expires at the end of next season.

Renault has three options - continue as an engine supplier, return as a full-works outfit or quit F1 altogether.

Force India team principal Vijay Mallya told AUTOSPORT that Renault asked for the meeting - their second of the season - and he met with Renault ambassador and consultant Alain Prost on Saturday night in Belgium.

"Yesterday was a conversation from their side to update me on the fact no decision has been taken, they haven't made a proposal about the board of Renault," said Mallya.

"Secondly, he wanted to know how I would feel about shareholding. Would we be willing to consider being a minority. If so, what would be our aspirations.

"We didn't talk about engine supply at all.

"We talked generally about their interest in about potentially becoming a constructor, that they are talking to multiple teams and about what is my vision and what is possible and not possible.

"They asked me: 'Would you be prepared to part with a majority stake?'

"If I said no, maybe it would have been end of conversation.

"I said it has to be considered, in light of a potential offer, and secondly I asked what are the minority protection rights you offer?

"There is no deal on the table. They have not made a decision about their plans. It's very preliminary."

Force India's shareholding is currently split between three parties - Mallya, the Sahara group and the Mol family - and while Mallya must present an offer to the board, he is confident they would follow his recommendation.

"I have a mandate to speak for all three," he said. "But if there is a deal on the table, I have to discuss it with the board.

"I'm more than confident that they will follow my recommendation but we are a democratic organisation, which is properly managed and things at a certain level must be a board decision."

Mallya said he was informed by Prost that Renault is talking to a number of teams, including Lotus which has been considered the frontrunner for a takeover deal, but nothing firm has been completed as talks continue.

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