Renault is edging closer to making a call on whether it will return to Formula 1 as a works operation by purchasing the Lotus F1 team.
The French manufacturer has been investigating the possibility of buying back the Enstone squad, which it owned from 2000-2010, for some time as it assesses its own future in the sport.
Currently contracted as an engine supplier to Red Bull and Toro Rosso until 2016, Renault is expected to make a final decision regarding a possible buy out of Lotus in the second half of the season.
Lotus has been struggling financially with the squad in the process of paying several creditors after being faced with a winding-up petition earlier this month.
Renault Sport F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul has confirmed discussions with several teams have taken place, although Lotus remains a firm favourite.
However,the extent of Lotus’ financial situation is likely to play a role in the final decision.
“Nothing is done as of yet, but we are much further down the road and we are much closer to a conclusion and a decision,” Abiteboul told ESPN.
“We are much clearer on why we want to be in F1 and also we are much clearer on the value of the sport and the sort of cost and budget we think we should allow.
“We have been in talks with several teams and there is no secret about that.
“There have been many different types of speculation, one day it’s Lotus, one day it’s Sauber and the next day it’s Toro Rosso.
“There have been others and there will be others. It’s part of the option we are looking at and with Lotus we need to be extremely careful because it’s no secret that the team has been struggling financially.
“We need to wonder about the collateral damage associated in particular to the people outside of an organisation associated to the financial difficulties.”
Renault finished fifth in the constructors standings in its final F1 season as a works team in 2010.