The latest paddock speculation suggests that the Lotus F1 Team will announce a move to Mercedes power at the end of this season.
The Enstone outfit – which ironically was the former Renault F1 factory team – will replace McLaren (itself partnering with Honda) to keep Mercedes’ presence on the F1 grid at four teams next year. Aside from the works F1 team, Mercedes also supplies the Williams and Force India F1 teams.
The Mercedes V6 power unit has proven to be the one to have in 2014. Not only are the Brixworth-designed engines the most effective power unit, they’re also reportedly the cheapest at $26 million for a season. That might not sound like a bargain basement price, but both Ferrari ($30 million) and Renault ($40 million) come in quite a bit higher, as both make heavy stipulations that their customers must stump up extra cash to use their affiliated fuel and lubricant partners.
If confirmed, the announcement will be the biggest of Lotus’ season to-date. The team’s radical twin-nose E22 has struggled under Renault power, although not all of the performance challenges the team is facing should be laid at the feet of its current engine partner, which has made enormous strides to improve power and reliability since the pre-season.
The news would mean that Renault’s presence would be reduced to three teams in 2015: Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Caterham (or whatever it may land up being called under its soon-to-be-announced new owners). Renault could acquire a fourth team on its books in 2016, assuming the Romanian government-backed F1 team project approved by the FIA actually gets off the ground.
After a poor showing on home soil two weeks ago, Red Bull Racing has been more vocal of late in its criticism of Renault, prompting suggestions that the Milton Keynes squad was also on the lookout to switch engine partners or – more ludicrously! – to even buy out the Renault F1 operation.
Image via XPB Images
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