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Fernandes: No chance of a deal on Lotus, now it goes legal
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Fernandes: No chance of a deal on Lotus, now it goes legal
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Dec 2010   |  6:18 pm GMT  |  58 comments

Tony Fernandes has reacted angrily to comments made at a media briefing yesterday by Group Lotus CEO Danny Bahar and has said that there is now no chance of a deal being struck between the shareholders of his 1 Malaysia operation and Group Lotus, which is owned by Proton.

Speaking to me on the phone from Manila this morning he said of Bahar’s allegation that his demands for a deal were three times the cost of the Renault sponsorship,


“It’s just not true. I can confirm categorically that there was never an offer in any written form and certainly nothing in the region of £60 million. And we were never given an offer (by them). We talked about putting money into the team, equity ownership and he mentioned a similar figure (to the Renault sponsorship deal) of £20 million at the time. But it was talk, they never came back with a firm offer. £20 million is a third of the team’s budget.

“I can’t believe what I’ve read (Bahar’s quotes from yesterday), ” he added. “I don’t know if it’s an attempt to paint us as greedy and villainous. I have to say in the last weeks we’ve seen interviews from Gerard Lopez, Eric Boullier (Lotus Renault GP boss and team principal respectively) and now Danny Bahar and it’s a constant attempt to discredit us. I don’t think it’s right.

“Boullier says we are “trying to fool the fans” – it’s an insult, you can’t fool fans. Fans either like what you are doing or dislike it. Fans can decide if we are or are not credible.

“When you start writing articles like I’ve been seeing over the last few days then I can’t see a deal being worked out because the comments are not helpful and if anything we are further apart than we have ever been. If you were serious about getting a deal then doing all these articles doesn’t really help in negotiating. Unless he’s hoping for enormous political pressure to be brought down on me. But I don’t think so. I’ve run an airline against the national carrier and grown larger than the national carrier, we are a democracy and a country (Malaysia) that respect the rule of the law.”

Asked if he thought the only way to resolve this now is through the courts he said, “I think so.”

Bahar also said yesterday that he was happy to race in F1 using Renault chassis for the next two years but would then look to possibly rename the chassis Lotus under the new 2013 Concorde Agreement. Fernandes said this would not be possible under the rules, ” I don’t see how a new Concorde Agreement would change anything. We would still be the Lotus chassis owner. If the other owners agree to let him call the chassis Group Lotus, then maybe, but I can’t see that.

“And let me ask, are they prepared to change their chassis name and still have their historical money (payments based on previous results)? They were always going to be called Renault. I don’t think they’ve done their research properly.”

This is a reference to the column in the Concorde Agreement which apportions money based on the team’s previous longevity in the sport and its past success.

I called Group Lotus and asked for a response to Fernandes’ comments from Bahar but he declined to comment. I think one of the reasons for this is that he speaks for Group Lotus, whereas Fernandes speaks for himself.

I think what has happened here is that Fernandes did a deal with the previous Lotus management, when the company was in a bad way, for a five year licence to use the Lotus name, thinking that in that time he would be able to assemble backers to buy Group Lotus off Proton. When Behar was recruited he wanted motor sport to be the company’s prime promotional tool and put a stop to the licence deal with Fernandes. He didn’t want to do the obvious thing and join forces with Fernandes’ Norfolk based team partly because of an ego clash, but also because he doesn’t think the current Lotus team is good enough. He doesn’t see Lotus as an underdog brand but as a front of the grid brand and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

He seems in an awful hurry and it could be argued that to build a new five car range of cars as well as roll out a full motorsport programme involving sportscars, GP2, GP3 is taking on a lot already, without throwing in a huge F1 programme.

F1 inside opinion is divided on this – some feel sympathy for Bahar on the basis that he controls the Lotus brand and Fernandes has no real connection with it beyond a friendship with the Chapman family and the rights to Team Lotus. Others feel that Fernandes is a proven achiever through his airline and has done a good, honest job with reviving Lotus in F1 and has the right plan for moving forward in future.

Either way it now seems that the opportunity for seeking a peaceful resolution is receding and that the High Court case next summer will ultimately decide whether Fernandes has the right to race as Team Lotus with a Lotus chassis.

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58 Comments
  1. Paul H says:

    Interesting comment that Bahar speaks for Group Lotus and Fernandes for himself. Seems a very considered statement.

    To my mind both sides are playing the game, with varying degrees of success. Both gain publicity during the off season and it is probably helping them attract new sponsors due to the additional coverage and scrutiny both teams will be under at the start of the season.

    As for not wanting to be the underdog, Brits love the underdogs! But last year they showed real potential and the will to go racing properly – new start up, proven staff, experienced drivers rather than pay drivers, realistic expectations. Alongside the measures taken to step up in 2011, I feel that rather than degrade the image of the car brand, it would actually have been enhanced. A lot of respect was gained last year, being part of the team as it makes what is expected to be a sizeable step up would have offered a lot of positive publicity rather than sponsoring a team that is likely to do well, but not improve significantly next year other than occasional results provided by KERS and a very talented driver rather than engineering.

    Any idea what teams will be using KERS next year and which will be at least starting the season without?

  2. Born 1950 says:

    Seems to me that if he ever wants to have the Lotus name properly on his car, in a way the general public will understand, Bahar is going to have to stump up a hell of a lot of dosh to win round Fernandes now.

    Bahar is clearly no negotiator and has shot himself in the foot big time: and strikes me Tony Fernandes is a canny man.

    1. Pinball says:

      If I had a crystal ball, I reckon it would show something like this: in a couple of years once Bahar has really driven Lotus into the ground, and it’s losing a ton of cash, Proton will come to Fernandez and practically beg him to buy the Lotus road car company, and Fernandez will tranform it into a sucess like the rest of his businesses.

      1. Observer says:

        Well, quite interesting note and I agree… Have heard a lot of things how many people inside were happy when Bahar left Ferrari…

      2. CoolGav says:

        I’m thinking along similar lines. Group Lotus is trying to do too much. They do need to go and run a motorsport program and develop a new car or two, but not 5 cars, F1, GP2, GP3 and sportscars!

        Lotus cars are about “added lightness”. Small, lightweight, efficient, fun cars that are affordable enough as an alternative to a performance saloon. I can’t see many people chosing a big, heavy, expensive Lotus over a McLaren or Mercedes, Ferrari or Aston Martin.

        So if the plan doesn’t work out, Group Lotus will be worthless and be in need of reinvention back to “added lightness”.

  3. Jonathan Dye says:

    Group Lotus have gone about this in completely the wrong way. Team Lotus have done an amazing job in getting the team to the grid and beating the better prepared new teams. They have made strong moves for 2011 and have created a great following among fans.
    Group Lotus have come in heavy handed under Bahar and will be loosing fans before they even start. A deal with Fernandes would have been the best way to build the Lotus brand. To build the team up like Chapman did, rather than tag onto Renault.
    The deal is obviously the result of closer ties with the Renault road car manufacturing and Proton cars, but the two teams competing wouldnt have been a bad thing.
    Im fully supporting Team Lotus. They have the same spirit as Chapman and Im sure they will go on to great things.

    1. Nick F says:

      If they did a deal it would actually work out very well for them especially since Lotus is also running Renault engines. 4 car advertising would be good and it also helps blunt the risks of having a dud car one year which of course is periodically going to happen.

  4. Ben G says:

    Go Group.

    Fernandes and co have great chutzpah, but they aren’t Lotus. The people who make Lotus cars are Lotus. Does anyone think Scuderia Ferrari is different to the company that makes Ferrari road cars?

    1. Bec says:

      But Lotus cars have never taken part in F1, Team Lotus have, and that’s currently with Tony Fernandes.

    2. Crazy Man says:

      Yes! =)

    3. Gui says:

      Problem my friend, is that Scuderia Ferrari was never a separated legal entity.
      Scuderia was and is the “Reparto Corse” of Ferrari Cars, the racing division of the main company.

      Team Lotus was and is a separated legal entity of Lotus Cars. The business of Team Lotus was always Formula One and never, but never has Lotus Cars raced in Formula One.
      In theory, Bahar can’t race as Lotus, because Team Lotus is the only entity legally allowed (at least in UK, but hey, Lotus is english)to use the name Lotus in Formula One.
      Thus all the hard-talking is has been doing, talking of political coups and so on.

      1. d-d says:

        Are you a victim of Fernandes yet?
        Fernandes never drove as Team Lotus – he just wants from 2011. He drove as Lutus Racing – licenced by Lotus Cars – hence it’s Lotus Cars who is related to 2010 F1 and lotus brand.

        Yes Lotus Cars can race as Lotus once they enter in F1 (Concorde Agreement is another issue, unrelated) – it’s a brand of their cars. So they enter like Renault did to Benetton – and I will have no doubt about their genuity.

        Fernandes has – though not yet confirmed by court – a right to be called Team Lotus, not everything Lotus – and only in F1.
        But it has nothing to do with real Team Lotus heritage.
        Sorry, anybody can start a new team in F1 and anybody can buy a brand on sale. This doesn’t make his any heir of anything.

      2. Ben G says:

        Chapman only created a separate entity for Team to avoid any potential financial and legal complications between the car making division and his racing outfit.

        If he had really seen the two companies as totally separate he would not have called his racing outfit Team Lotus, but, say, Team Chapman, like so many other team owners did in that era (McLaren, Brabham, Tyrell, Ferrari).

        It is really silly to pretend that Team and Group are unrelated. It may be true legally, but not practically or historically.

      3. John says:

        “Legal” is all that matters here

      4. Gui says:

        Again and again and again.
        They are legally, two separate entities. David Hunt has already proved this more than once in the court.
        Thus the problem when Proton bought Lotus cars and discovered they hadn’t bought the F1 team: because they are two legally different things.

        It doesn’t matter if you think that “Chapman would”. The law says they are two different corporations and what matters here is law.
        And the english law says (and I’m not talking about the concord agreement) that Team Lotus has exclusive rights regarding the use of the brand Lotus on Formula One racing.
        In the end, this not about if we like Fernandes or Bahar (I’m with Fernandes duh), but that Fernandes has the law on his side.

        Get your facts straight.

      5. Ben G says:

        [mod] I know Team and Group are legally two separate entities. All I am daring to suggest is my own humble opinion that the people who make Lotus cars are to me best suited to go racing with the brand Lotus.

        My facts are perfectly straight. I’m not sure about yours, however. Yes, Team Lotus have the exclusive rights to go F1 racing under the name Team Lotus. But they have never demonstrated that they have exclusivity on the use of the name ‘Lotus’ in F1 – if they could, then an English court would have allowed them to prove that by now, and to have succeeded in gaining an injunction against Group. They have not done this.

        I admire Fernandes & co, and, yes, ideally Bahar should have done a deal with them long ago. Also, Group should long ago have done a deal with David Hunt. But we are where we are. And if the people who make Lotus cars want to race in F1 to market those cars, then good for them.

    4. Pinball says:

      Ah, Fernandez owns the rights to the name “Team Lotus”, and therefore as far as F1 is concerned that is Lotus. Back in the day Colin Chapman, the founder of Lotus had seperate companies for Lotus Road cars (Group Lotus), and for Lotus F1 (Team Lotus). Lotus Road cars have never been involved in Formula 1.

      1. d-d says:

        Not really. As far as F1 is concerned Fernandes is Team Lotus, not everything Lotus. When Bahar enters F1 he will be (also) rightly Lotus because he’s company is Lotus Cars.
        The fact that as entity Lotus Cars never raced in F1 doesn’t mean they can’t, and voila they enter next season.

    5. S Quilter says:

      Ben G…

      You clearly don’t know what you are talking about, Group and Team Lotus have been separate entities for decades. Ferrari are one entity that has a racing team as its means of advertising.

      The company that makes Lotus road cars has never once raced in F1, they have no racing history and under Mr Bahar are now ‘passing off’ that history illegally.

      1. Ben G says:

        Mr Quilter, I did not deny that Group and Team are legally separate entities. I merely said that the company that makes Lotus cars will, for me, always be spiritually closer to the history of Lotus in Formula One than somebody who, with admittedly great skill and determination, has effectively bought a brand off the shelf.

        Furthermore, your statement that “the company that makes Lotus road cars has… no racing history”, is I believe incorrect. Lotus Engineering Ltd, founded by Chapman in 1952 and the company that kicked it all off, raced sports cars successfully before Team Lotus was split off in 1954. Oh, and who built the actual cars that were raced by Team Lotus? Lotus Cars, which later became Group Lotus.

  5. CaptainJack says:

    He does like to play the victim Tony doesn’t he. He’s always blaming someone else.

    Also strikes me as quick to call in the lawyers. Just a generally aggressive personality.

    As you noted James he has no real interest in resolving this as his goal seems to be take over Group Lotus, so this is all a charade. No normal person would fight to try and deny a manufacturer their legitimate right to race.

    But when what you were planning was to buy the carcass of that manufacturer up for cheap and now Bahar like a thorn in your side has come along to reinvigorate it, well that’s different I guess. Plenty of motive to fight.

    Anyway, if Fernandes had any real passion for the Lotus brand he wouldn’t drag it thru the mud by running to the courts like this.

    1. John says:

      You would fight too if you had a legal right….or would you just roll over and let someone take something from you that was legally yours?

      It doesn’t matter whether Fernandes was given the rights or paid for the rights to use the name, the fact is that he does have the legal rights to the name “Team Lotus”. Lotus Cars doesn’t even own the rights to their best car anymore (Lotus 7). They’re on shaky ground.

      1. Hamish says:

        John, you’ve obviously never driven an Exige, or an Elise for that matter…wonderful cars

      2. John says:

        Which car has a better pedigree; the 7, the Exige, or the Elise?

        Of those three cars, which one did Chapman have a hand in developing?

        Your ‘best car’ would have a pedigree. Your ‘best car’ would have a passionate following.

        Proton’s best car would arguably be the Elise and they didn’t even start the project Artioli’s company did; but that doesn’t stop them from trying to steal the Team Lotus racing heritage.

      3. jonrob says:

        With apologies to Highlander, “There can be only one” and its name is KAR 120C
        As driven by the Prisoner in episode 1 and subsequent opening titles. Now owned by Caterham Cars. No I have seen it but not driven it but I have driven an Elise, on the A3, brakes only work when warmed up, not what you need to discover on the “off” slip road.

  6. Richard M says:

    I do see the view that Fernandes does not have any ties to the actual Lotus company and only really has the name, however what he is tryiing to do is some much more in the spirit of Team Lotus in building a F1 team and making it competitive. All Bahar is doing is trying to tag the Lotus name on a successful F1 team just for marketing reason. I don’t trust a word Bahar says he seems to be the type of person who will say anything to get his way whether it be true or not.

  7. Rich C says:

    >>He seems in an awful hurry<<

    He certainly does. Plus he's entering IndyCar in 2012, with their common chassis and you-bolt-on-your-own aero design concept. In addition they claim they'll be supplying engines!

    Heres a link: http://www.indycar.com/news/show/55-izod-indycar-series/40525-manufacturer-competition-blooms-with-lotus/

  8. onyx says:

    Agree with Ben G- Go Group!
    When i started watching F1 in the seventies i didnt think of Team Lotus as separate from Lotus Cars-the people who make Lotus cars are Lotus.Why is everyone so impressed with what Lotus Racing did this year?To my mind they weren’t much better than a car designed without a wind tunnel(Virgin) and in HRT’s case,a team whose budget seemed to be about £1.80!Also this years Lotus looked terrible!Is Gascoyne that great?He has been fired from just about every team he has worked for!I’m sorry but the new teams added nothing to F1 this year-Luca is right, lets have three car teams!

    1. Werner says:

      The nail on the head !

    2. Kat says:

      I know there are a lot of people and Autosport editors who think that putting a Lotus sticker on a Renault car is the way Colin Chapman used to go racing, but they’re wrong. In fact, Chapman built his team from scratch, and that’s more or less what Fernandes’s team is currently doing.

      And I think Mike Gascoyne did a pretty good job in 2010 as a technical chief. Next year he’ll prove his worth also as a car designer, and in 2012 Fernandes’s Team Lotus will beat the Renault with Lotus stickers. :)

    3. Ferrari fans would obviously like a three car Ferrari team : It would give Stefano Domenicali two drivers he can order out of Alonso’s way !

      1. Tom says:

        What kind of blatant trolling is this?

      2. No trolling at all :

        It’s perfectly clear, Ferrari have a completely different view on what constitutes a sport from that of McLaren, Red Bull and Williams, to name but three teams who are committed to letting their drivers race.

        Stefano Domenicali would have no problem whatsoever in ordering both his No. two and No. three drivers to move over if it gave Alonso more championship points.

        Nobody can surely argue that the team don’t have form in this respect ?

        There might even be an unwritten “understanding” if the third car was handed over to Sauber to run, as has been suggested.

        With team orders now offically allowed again, a three car Ferrari team should be the last development anybody seriously interested in racing would want to see.

        Returning to Lotus : I think it’s arrogant in the extreme for Luca di Montezemolo and the (ex Ferrari)Danny Bahar to insult Team Lotus and the two other new teams in the way that they have done.

        At least two of the new teams have done more than enough to justify their place on the grid. In the case of Lotus in particular, the team may be new, but it’s run by people who have many years experience in Formula 1.

        Danny Bahar is clearly very impatient to be associated with a winning team again so he’s led Proton towards the ex-Renault team rather than go in with Team Lotus. That’s rightly a strategic decision for him and Proton Management.

        But Tony Fernandes’ team would surely have been able to run closer to the established teams in their first season if they had been given more time to prepare and more leeway on testing.

        Both were denied to them by the FIA.

  9. Nick F says:

    “He doesn’t see Lotus as an underdog brand but as a front of the grid brand and wanted to get there as quickly as possible.”

    This always happens when rich successful people get involved in sport. It especially happens in football. The rich person has done amazingly well in business and in life and they are used to winning.

    In the business world its possible for a lot of bright and hard working people to win. Infact others success can help you since they can be your customers. In sport though it’s different. Only one team can win and the number of teams competing is small. The rich person often comes into sport expecting their life success to just carry into the sport. success will happen in just 2 years. Unfortunately though Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool, Mclaren, Ferrari and Redbull are there waiting for them. They have at this point hundreds of millions invested in in infrastructure and personnel and they have years of experience.

    It’s very hard to win stuff.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Spot on. Someone has to lose, a hard thing to swallow for those used to winning.

  10. jonrob says:

    “thinking that in that time he would be able to assemble backers to buy Group Lotus off Proton”

    Here’s a quid that says Tony will own Lotus Group International Limited (who own Group Lotus) inside five years. (If Bahar does not bankrupt them first, exhaust Proton’s patience and let Tony have it for my quid).

  11. Gui says:

    Well, autoblog mentions that Bahar sayed Lots may build it’s own engines, V6′s and V8′S to the new Elan and Esprit.
    So: Formula one, Indy, Sportscars, 5 new cars, building own engines, all this to sell 2000-maybe with luck 4000 cars per year.
    For Pete’s sake, Toyota and Honda(& Renault) sell millions of cars per year and even they found that racing on their own in F1 wasn’t sustainably possible, at least without jeopardising their future.

    1. Mark says:

      2000 – 4000? I think that’s just for the top of the range sports car, not total across all five models.

      1. Gui says:

        You are right there. Maybe the bulk of projected sales regards the Lotus Eterne. Now, how he’s going to sell, let’s say, 4000 Lotus Eterne, when you have a Panamera, a Aston-Martin Rapide, a Maserati Quatroporte, and even maybe a Lamborghini Estoque?

      2. Mark says:

        You tell me, I don’t really care, I won’t be buying any of them ;)

    2. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bahar’s plan is way too ambitious.

      It reminds me of 10 years ago, when Ford was trying to push Jaguar as an F1 brand in order to promote the Ford Premium Auto Group (Jag, Aston and Vovlo, I think that was). Ford, generating lots of cash that’s held them in good stead these days, sold off all of those operations, including the F1 team. Along the way, a Ford executive in Dearborn allegedly saw a balance sheet and asked, “Who is this Ed Irvine, and why are we paying him $$$$$$$$ million per year?”

      Ford, Honda and Toyota probably sell 4000 Tauruses, Camrys and Accords apiece every hour. They’re all out of F1. David Richards, who has both Aston-Martin and a solid F1 record in his own right, hasn’t seen a sufficient business case to get back into F1. Bahar should talk to them all before going too far down the road he’s taking.

      On the other hand, before he sinks too much money into his team Tony Fernandes may want to talk to another airline mogul and (former) F1 boss – Paul Stoddardt.

  12. Frenchie says:

    There are two elements at stake: brand and egos.

    Bahar’s ego is probably what created this situation in the first place. It looks like he was given free reins to promote the Lotus cars brand and probably made the wrong decision by not backing Team Lotus. His desire to succeed quickly – at all costs – means that unfortunately, he put himself first and Group Lotus brand second.

    He is now in a catch-22 situation where by having two different Lotus teams on the grid is going to create confusion around the brand he is trying to promote (Group Lotus).

    Bullying Tony Fernandes in was never going to work.
    Fernandes knows more than most what drives popularity (in general terms). What he has achieved in reviving the Lotus brand this year is significant. He could have easily got it so wrong that they would have been ridiculed by the paddock and F1 fans alike.

    Danny Bahar now faces two problems. He needs to stop the confusion between the two Lotus brands in Formula 1 in a way that Group Lotus’ image isn’t damaged as a result. The second is more personal: how not to lose face?

    I would imagine it is now too late for Group Lotus to back down the Renault F1 deal. If Fernandes wins in courts, brand confusion and crushed egos (those at Group Lotus) will remain.

    The more I follow this battle, the more I admire Tony Fernandes. He is using his underdog status very cleverly indeed.

    James, thank you so much for following both sides of the story. Your investigative approach to journalism is second to none in F1.
    If money allows, have you thought about doing a TV program about this battle? This is exactly the kind of stories that makes Formula 1 so special.

  13. tank says:

    Glad that Tony is finally playing hardball. He has history of success, a long list of achievements, he respects and is respected, he is humble and realistic about formula 1, and most impressively, he has acquired the 2010 WCC car’s drivetrain in his team’s second year of existence.

    Google “Dany Bahar” and the most information you will get is summary of where he has worked. And a few (s)mug shots of him in front of a Lotus. More and more, it seems like he blew the Group Lotus board away with his pitch. I won’t go as far as suggesting he lied to them about budgets (although if interviews of the last few days are anything to go by, anything is possible), but honestly, how do you enter practically every relevant open-wheeled class of racing, selling a few thousand cars a year? I would be a fool to invest in such a venture.

    It looks like shullbit on the face of it. Bahar comes across as arrogant and that is a main reason I will not support his case. I used to like Lotus cars; now not so much for some reason…

  14. Hervé says:

    I tend to agree with Bahar view on Mike Gascoygne. In the last 10 years he has worked for Jordan, Renault, Toyota, Force India and now “Lotus”. When was the last time he designed a SUCCESSFULL car?

    Come on. Yes they did a good job compared to Mosley new “teams”.

    But who seriously thinks Lotus will sell more cars with a team 2 or 3 laps behind leaders BUT in front of other “new teams”.

    Lotus sells supercars and dream is one of the key argument in buying one.

    And if I was to take a decision, with Renault (granted the team has enough cash) they have a team in the top 5 of the sport.

    Will “Lotus” ever make it to the top 5? If yes in how many times?

    1. AndyB says:

      Lotus doesn’t (yet) sell supercars – they sell sportscars. The whole point being you don’t have to dream to buy them, they are reasonably affordable and not made out of excessive engines, super sizes or extreme design.

  15. Alexx says:

    well after the court verdict i expect 1 team to be called Lotus and the other Ulost.

  16. Dave says:

    Am I the only one seriously confused by all of this name-changing and name-calling ? I’ve been a F1 fan for 16 years and I don’t understand it, how is an F1 newbie going to fathom it out ??!

  17. simon fehr says:

    To be fair, neither Fernadez or Bahar have any claim to be carrying on the Lotus name. But, if you look at it from a purely scentific point of view, Chapman used to design a chassis in Norfolk, plonk someone else’s engine in it and race as Team Lotus. Isn’t that exactly what Fernandez is doing? Bahar is just a sticker man. I think if Chapman were still around, he’d be siding with Fernandez simply due to the ‘garagista’ nature of the team.

  18. Stefanos says:

    James, a lot is being written in the press on this story, but I have to say that the quality and balance that you offer here is next to none and this is clearly also being recognised by all parties involved. Very well done!

  19. Kirk says:

    Never been a Lotus fan/follower before, admired Colin Chapman, knew the proud history and classic cars they built. We all know that this iconic team is long gone, Chapman was the spirit of it, with the cap in the air after a win and all that, and nobody can (or should) try copy that – but the name survived and makes it interesting in F1. It belongs there in some shape or form, so I thought it was cool the way Fernandes and Gascoigne went about it in 2010, engaging with fans and being respectful to such an important F1 name. In the other hand the way Bahar has treated and dismissed the guys at Lotus Racing is despicable and I will be hoping new Team Lotus gets one over Renault very soon. And I also hope Fernandes takes Bahar to the cleaners in court.

    1. dren says:

      I agree there. Fernandes and Gascoyne did put together a very respectable team from scratch last year. They have come a long way since then. Leaving Cosworth and going with the Renault-Red Bull rear end will do wonders for them. I expect the car to be quite a bit better in 2011.

      1. Hamish says:

        They’d better be better in 2011. What they put up their first year was an embarrassment to the Lotus name IMO. I was expecting them to be at least be at least midfield…competitive with Sauber, STR etc., but in all reality they never got close. Lotus were better in their last F1 year in the 90′s, when they gave the sport away. I don’t see their performance as respectable at all. Fernandes and Gascoyne had better pull their proverbial fingers out for 2011 or I’ll be supporting a different team.

        And that is from a Lotus owner…

  20. Nitrobox says:

    “[..]Fernandes did a deal with the previous Lotus management, when the company was in a bad way, for a five year licence to use the Lotus name, thinking that in that time he would be able to assemble backers to buy Group Lotus off Proton. [..]

    If he really wants to buy Lotus from Proton then he is simply waiting for Group Lotus to collapse, i see no reason why would Proton want to sell him this car company if it might be well governed and generate some income.

    I would imagine that after Proton appointed Dany Bahar as the GL CEO, he convinced them that Tony is very aggresive businessman and he wants to make kinda hostile takeover so they should cut the deal with him and try to make their own plan to save Lotus brand for Proton.

  21. kayels says:

    Fernandes is no better than Bahar, he wanted his team to stand out of the new ones & have something a bit special so he paid for the naming rights to buy himself a ready made fan base. Definitely not in the spirit of the real Lotus.

    Bahar needs to be careful though, announcing Lotus are back in the press is not going to help, he can’t lay claim to the heritage and history of the Lotus F1 team anymore than Fernandes can.

    I can see how 4 Lotuses on the grid will be confusing to casual fans but they’ll soon have to get used it, as I can’t see legally why either will have to change their names. Fernandes owns the Team Lotus name & Bahar owns the Group Lotus name so long as they don’t use ‘team’ I can’t see they will be forced to change.

  22. Werner says:

    Frankly, I do not understand the hype so well. Lotus is producing Lotus sportscars. Why should someone else use this name ? Proton should never have given Fernandes and Gascoyne the chance to use this iconic name.
    I neither do understand why “everyone” here is praising de Malaysian team so much (too much)… They were racing in another league…; were not always quicker than the Virgin cars… With Renault, Lotus will be amoung the top 5 teams. I wonder where Gascoyne and his team will be. I hope for them they will suprise me but I do not believe in miracles !

  23. onyx says:

    If Fernandes doesnt back down (for a sack full of cash)and call his team something else ‘i will eat my hat’…you saw it here first!

    All you guys rubbishing Bahar are a joke…Lotus has been losing money for years making ‘affordable sports cars’…something had to change and he’s trying to do it with Protons backing..good luck to him…

  24. Lockster says:

    My take on this whole mess is that for all Group Lotus’ “investments” in motorsport which sounds like being over 20Million per year in F1 alone, they missed the key investment, which was buying the rights to race as “Team Lotus” from David Hunt. Group Lotus had YEARS to purchase the rights before Fernandes came onto the scene, but they didn’t bother out of arrogance.

    I’m not saying that they should have bought the rights because they necessarily wanted to be called Team Lotus, but for a relatively paltry sum, they would have been able stop any other entity claiming a right to be called Lotus in F1 and could have avoided this whole confused mess.

    At the very LEAST they should have done a deal with David Hunt BEFORE they told Fernandes that they were cancelling his licence to be called “Lotus Racing”!! I mean, why leave the guy an almighty “Plan B”? Seriously?

    Group Lotus have been very sloppy strategically and it is mainly because of egos and because they underestimated Tony Fernandes.

    I believe that that error will be very costly as I expect the courts will rule with Fernandes and then what happens? Group Lotus can’t be title sponsors of Renault? Do Lotus have to pay some kind of compensation for pulling out of the sponsorship agreement?

    Either way, there is going to be an enormous torpedo coming their way, and it was all very easily avoidable.

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