Group Lotus, the carmakers, and Team Lotus, the racing team, have been battling it out off the track over the rights to use the name “Lotus.” And in a decision awarded this weekend, Group Lotus has come out on top.
Team Lotus traces its lineage back to Colin Chapman’s original Formula 1 efforts in 1952, and along the way have racked up some of the most successful victories in the sport. But the original team folded in 1994, and after a succession of flagrantly useless owners (including F1 legend James Hunt’s surviving brother) Tony Fernandes relaunched the team in 2010.
But a year earlier, the Malaysian government—which controls a stake in Lotus’s parent company Proton—threw its own hat in the Formula 1 ring in an effort to promote Proton on the world stage. They picked an experienced team name that would garner respect among the racing community: Lotus.
Actually, Lotus Renault GP, as the team was built from the remnants of the Renault F1 team which was restructured in 2010. Neither team has a direct connection to the 1994 team, but Team Lotus is backed by Tony Fernandes, while Lotus-Renault is backed by Genii Capital and Group Lotus plc—as well as the estate of Colin Chapman, which expressed a desire for Team Lotus to die a peaceful death. The high courts have agreed to this, as well: in a decision made this weekend, judges allowed Group Lotus to use the name “Lotus” in future F1 races, as well as revoking Team Lotus’s trademarks.
There’s some good news to come out of this drama: what do the Lotus-Renault cars look like? Well, when you see them at Monaco this weekend, they’ll be sporting some familiar livery: the famous black-and-gold scheme made famous by John Player Special in the 1970s. Retro-tastic.