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Despite terminating its title sponsorship deal with Group Lotus, Lotus is committed to keeping its name in Formula 1 for the imminent feature. Confused? You should be.
Group Lotus was recently sold by Proton to Malaysian automotive corporation DRB-Hicom, causing Lotus F1′s team owner Genii Capital to end its formal relationship with Lotus. Just a week ago, we reported that Proton might be interested in acquiring Team Lotus F1, but that appears to be off the table now.
Despite the end of the Group Lotus sponsorship, Genii owner Gerard Lopez remains committed to the Lotus name. Lopez has recently agreed to a deal for title sponsorship on the F1 team, something he originally put together back in 2010, but that has been canceled and Proton’s option to buy 50 percent of the team has also been removed.
“We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1,” Lopez explained in a recent interview with Autosport. “We funded the team last year and the year before for whatever delta was missing. We would prefer to have sponsors up to the full amount – but if we have to fund it then we will fund it.”
Sponsorship deals that Genii had secured included Unilever and Microsoft, two companies that were arguably game changers in F1. Lopez also elaborated that buying Group Lotus isn’t entirely out of the question yet, but the organization would like to know what the new owners plan on doing with it.
What season of F1 would be complete without the off-track drama? The complex battle between racing teams Group Lotus and Team Lotus rages on, indicating that the previous ruling for the rights to the Lotus name didn’t end the dispute yet.
Turns out, the high court judge had given Group Lotus the go-ahead to use the Lotus roundel, the “Lotus” name, and the retro-tastic black-and-gold livery. But it hadn’t entirely ruled out Team Lotus’s involvement in the sport, and parent company 1Malaysia Racing Team can still use the name and logo “Team Lotus.” This, for Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, is a problem.
And as such, he is planning to appeal the ruling and eliminate the confusion: “it is inevitable that the similarity of the names Lotus and Team Lotus will cause confusion not only amongst F1 supporters and the wider public,” he said, “but also amongst F1 commentators who use the word ‘Lotus’ interchangeably for both teams.”
We hope this plays out with a clear winner on top, because what’s the plural of Lotus, anyway? Loti? Lotusesses?
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.
The Lotus F1 team has historically relied on power from three major engine builders; Cosworth, Renault and Honda. With Honda now out of Formula 1 racing and Cosworth’s powerplants providing unsatisfactory results, Lotus has turned to historic partner Renault for some mechanical motivation.
Starting in 2011, Lotus will use the Renault mills, which currently power the points-leading Red Bull cars, as well as the Renault factory team. The team will also change its name to Team Lotus, which has historical connotations, and connections with the Lotus cars brand.
Lotus and Renault previously partnered in the 1980′s with their iconic Black and Gold John Player Special cars (pictured above), while certain iconic Lotus road cars, like the Europa, could be fitted with a souped-up Renault Gordini motor in place of the Ford twincam.
Lotus F1, the Malaysian upstart team trading on the name of the famed British sports car maker, is apparently switching from Cosworth to Renault power for the 2011 season.
With Renault powering the dominant Red Bull Racing entry, the factory works Renault team, and a host of other teams, Lotus is hoping to acquire some of the magic contained within the French V8s. Negotiations between the two camps reportedly took place between the two camps at the British Grand Prix, but no announcement has been made.
While Lotus and Cosworth have a long historical alliance, Lotus has previously used Renault power, most notably when Ayrton Senna notably won four races for Lotus with Renault power in 1985.
[Source: Inside Line]