According to Autosport, Renault has held talks with Force India in regards to purchasing a majority stake in the Formula One team.
As we know, Renault are currently looking to return as a full-works manufacturer with Lotus, Force India or Toro Rosso arising as the most likely teams they are interested in.
According to reports circulating in the paddock, Force India boss Vijay Mallya spoke to Renault consultant and four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost on Friday evening.
When asked about this in his interview with Autosport this afternoon, Mallya stated the following on the subject as follows:-
‘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. 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.’
From what Mallya has stated in his interview this afternoon, he has not denied that he has spoken to Renault about them buying out or even buying into the team and what their goals, dreams and aspirations would be if they were successful. Mallya has made it quite clear that there wasn’t any talk of engine supply and that having a stake in the team wouldn’t be beneficial for him and that nothing has been decided as a result of these talks either.
In case you didn’t know Force India’s board consists of three parties, Mallya, the Sahara Group and the Mol family, all of whom will have to agree to any potential deal. As Mallya confirmed in his interview today, Renault are interested in purchasing other teams including Lotus, who are the most likely at this current stage.
But even though Mallya has spoken with Renault regarding their interest into buying out the team completely or buying a stake in the team, nothing has been decided and as he says, Renault at the moment are looking into every viable option they have in order to secure their future in the sport.
Personally, I would be surprised if these talks went further and if the situation was right for Mallya and the board in charge of the Force India team; it could happen. But as the legendary Murray Walker says “anything can happen in F1 and it usually does” and all we can do is see what Renault decide in the next few weeks regarding their plans for the 2016 season.