Mike Stevens | Dec 8, 2009

RENAULT IS POISED to receive up to four bids to purchase its ailing Formula 1 team as speculation mounts the French manufacturer may reduce its investment in the sport.

David Richards’ Prodrive outfit was believed to be the favourite to snare the team, but Luxembourg businessman Gerard Lopez has now emerged as a potential candidate to run the Enstone-based team.

Lopez is the chairman of Genii Capital and founded technology company Mangrove Capital Partners, one of the original investors in Skype.

Formula 1 commercial boss Bernie Ecclestone said Richards faces a battle to take control of the team, with Lopez mounting a strong bid.

He told The Times: “Richards is up against more than somebody. There is the Gerard Lopez group, there is David Richards and then there are another two people.

“I don't think there is any big rush to get something done. But the sooner the better for everybody. I hope it can be done within the next ten days and before everybody breaks up for Christmas.”

Prodrive boss David Richards.
Prodrive boss David Richards.

If Renault was to sell its team to Richards, it is believed the company would retain a minor stake with Prodrive holding a controlling stake, although the team would continue to operate under its current title.

Renault would then remain as engine supplier to at least 2012, when Formula 1 is on track to shift from a capacity-based formula to a green-themed one driven by efficiency.

Ecclestone said: “We’ve got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out. We are in the middle of doing it now. I feel confident that we’ll see Renault next year in Formula One under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that.

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