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But the team says otherwise
In press release issued by Lotus Cars, the British exotic car maker takes issue with recent reports that a new Formula 1 team for 2010 will run under the banner of Team Lotus. The new team, however, says that’s not the case.
U.K.-based Litespeed Racing has already secured a sport on the 2010 F1 lineup and decided to run under the Team Lotus name, with the permission of the name’s rights-holder David Hunt.
When Lotus Cars Limited heard of this, it issued a release which clearly stated that, “Group Lotus plc will take all necessary steps to protect its name, reputation and brand image,” a thinly veiled threat that the automaker will seek legal action if Litespeed continues with its plans.
That all seems straightforward enough, except this morning a report in AutoSport suggests information to the contrary. An unnamed source inside the newly formed Team Lotus said, “We’ve kept Lotus fully informed of our intentions and are well aware of the need to protect its brand image. We look forward to having closer ties with it in the future.”
Is this all just a big misunderstanding, or is it possible that Lotus Cars has been made aware of Team Lotus’s plans and is not amused?
Team Lotus will return to Formula 1 after a 16 year absence… sort of. While two cars scheduled to run in the 2010 season will proudly wear the Lotus name, the team will actually be owned and operated by Litespeed, a U.K.-based Formula 3 team.
Team Lotus rights holder David Hunt has allowed the company to use its name, in part due to the many ties Litespeed has with Lotus and its past Formula 1 efforts. Litespeed founders Nino Judge and Steve Kenchington are both former Lotus engineers.
Additionally, former Team Lotus driver Johnny Herbert will be involved in the project as an ambassador for the team and a manager for the drivers.
The new Team Lotus has also announced that vehicle design is being overseen by MGI and its owner Mike Gascoyne, a native of the Lotus stomping grounds in Norfolk.
“Team Lotus is synonymous with great British engineering and F1 innovation… both of which easily demonstrate why ex-Lotus personnel would want to bring this championship-winning name back to the formula,” said Judge in an interview with AutoSport. “Litespeed was born from a similar British background.”
“David Hunt has been the custodian of the name for so many years and we thank him for entrusting us not just with its safeguard but, more importantly, its development in the racing world of tomorrow.”
Team Lotus started in Formula 1 in 1958 after great success in the F2 series. Over the years some of the greatest drivers in motorsports raced for the team including Stirling Moss, Emerson Fittipaldi, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansel, Nelson Piquet, Mika Häkkinen and of course Ayrton Senna. The team won seven World Championships with its last race win coming from Senna in 1987. It continued on into the 1990s but struggled financially and on the track before it pulled from F1 at the end of the 1994 season.