Decided to take it easy en route to Monza, and rather than the usual 1,000 km dash in a day, the journey has been broken in the Alps, at the charming town of Annecy, on a turquoise lake, in the Haute Savoie. Today the journey will continue across (and under) the mountains and then we will go down through the picturesque Val d’Aosta to the plains of Piedmont (literally, at the foot of the mountains) and across to Milano.
While I am travelling, the Lotus saga will continue, the Renault cheerleaders will go on shaking their pom-poms about the takeover bid, but I am still to be convinced that it will happen. It is clearly NOT a good deal for those who have put money into the team (and that is a bigger group of people than we know) and no-one likes to lose money, so that will only be signed if there are no alternatives. All the positive spin being put on the bid in the leaks to the media are designed to keep the creditors feeling comfortable that they will get paid, without a haircut, so they have quieted down. The first thing would be an option to buy, probably for 30 days, during which time things will be put in place. Given that Renault itself does not have the cash to buy the team (the company will not agree to that) the only way it can happen is with money that is what one might term as being “off the books”. I would imagine that this would come from two sources: Bernie Ecclestone has said that he would be willing to pay Renault a historical bonus for its loyalty to F1, and I suspect a big chunk of money will come from him; secondly, I would guess that Renault would happily settle its 2016 engine deal with Red Bull in exchange for a lump sum payment. This money could then be applied to the purchase and while this is all being sorted out, all that is required is about $10 million to settle with the trade creditors and to keep the team running through the changeover. After that Renault will have to cobble together $50-$60 million from suppliers and government-related firms to cover the costs of running the team for the first 12 months. It may be wise to keep Pastor Maldonado for another year, if his PDVSA money is really there. Are there others willing to come in and fund such a revival? Probably, and the Lotus team owners would obviously prefer refinancing to a sale (for financial and egotistical reasons), but that would annoy Mr E, who wants a Renault deal to stabilise Enstone and wants Mercedes engines at Red Bull. When you look at it this way you conclude that a Renault takeover of Lotus might ultimately be dependent on Mercedes agreeing to supply Red Bull.
Now, there is a funny thought.