Renault has announced that it will contest the 2011 Formula 1 season under a British license, meaning should Robert Kubica or Vitaly Petrov win a race this year, ‘God Save The Queen’ will be played to acknowledge the nationality of the constructor rather than ‘La Marseillaise’.
Parent company Renault SA (the carmaker) – based in Boulogne-Billancourt – was one of France’s last remaining links with Formula 1, which has steadily seen a reduction in French drivers, manufacturers, sponsors (and the French GP) in the last decade.
This year – following Renault’s continued sale of its ownership of the F1 team bearing its name to Luxembourg-based investment group Genii Capital and the Malaysian-owned British car company Group Lotus – Renault’s official involvement this year will be as a technical partner and engine supplier, with the team seemingly operating in all but name alone.
Renault F1 team principal Eric Boullier has justified the change on the grounds that title sponsor and major shareholder Lotus “is an English manufacturer” during a press conference at the AUTOSPORT International Motor Show.
“We are rebranding everything inside the company now,” he added.
An official change in team name – an outcome that Group Lotus would no doubt want – has to be ratified by all other Team Principals on the grid in order not to disqualify the team from being entitled to the prize money it will receive based on its results in the previous year’s Constructors’ Championship. And with the outfit locked in a legal stoush with Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes over who has the rightful use to the Lotus moniker, such an agreement will not be achieved in the foreseeable future.
Boullier added that the rebranding and change of identity for the Renault F1 squad – officially noted on the FIA entry list as ‘Lotus Renault GP’ for 2011 – is “important for everybody inside
Group Lotus the team”.
In the team’s previous guise as Benetton, the outfit alternated between a British and Italian license during its time under that name.