Renault has moved a step closer to purchasing Lotus after announcing it has signed a letter of intent with the owners of the team.
Talks between Renault and Lotus are ongoing as the French manufacturer looks to return to the grid as a full manufacturer.
A Renault statement on Monday morning said: "Renault Group and Gravity Motorsports S.a.r.l., an affiliate of Genii Capital SA, are pleased to announce the signature of a letter of intent regarding the potential acquisition by Renault of a controlling stake in Lotus F1 Team Ltd.
"The signature of this Letter of Intent marks Renault's first step towards the project of a Renault Formula 1 team from the 2016 racing season thereby extending 38 years of commitment of the brand to the world's premier motorsport championship series.
"Renault Group and Gravity will work together in the coming weeks to eventually turn this initial undertaking into a definitive transaction provided all terms and conditions are met between them and other interested parties."
The timing of the announcement comes as Lotus returns for a final appearance in the High Court to continue an adjourned case brought against it by Britain's tax authority HMRC and is likely to help the team's cause. In Japan, Lotus' freight arrived to the paddock late and team members were locked out of the hospitality centre all weekend because of a late payment.