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Chapman family distance themselves from Fernandes’ version of Lotus
Chapman family distance themselves from Fernandes’ version of Lotus
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Dec 2010   |  6:23 pm GMT  |  207 comments

This afternoon the family of Lotus founder and legendary engineer Colin Chapman issued a statement which distances them from the Tony Fernandes vision for Lotus. It’s not a body blow to the Malaysian’s plans, but it is an important piece on the chess board which has now fallen to Danny Bahar and Group Lotus.

The support of the Chapman family, Colin’s son Clive and his mother Hazel, was fundamentally important to Fernandes when he launched his Lotus Racing team last year.

They were present at the launch in London and Clive is reported to have entrusted his father’s famous corduroy cap to Fernandes to use when the team won a race. Colin used to throw the cap high into the air when his drivers won races. Today’s statement doesn’t mention Fernandes by name and presumably they will be asking for the cap back.

Last summer at the British Grand Prix Clive and Hazel Chapman were guests of Fernandes in the paddock and I had a long chat with Clive about the Lotus Racing project, of which he seemed supportive. But the dispute with Group Lotus has clearly changed their view.

The statement, written by Clive, says that now Group Lotus has withdrawn the licence for Fernandes’ team to use the Lotus name in F1 and particularly now that Fernandes has responded by rebranding his outfit as Team Lotus, which Chapman says the family did not want to happen, they have switched their backing to Bahar and Group Lotus.

“In consultation with Proton, (the family’s support) included supporting the use of the Lotus name in Formula One, which was licensed by Group Lotus.

“The Chapman Family was impressed by the achievements of Lotus Racing as a new team, and appreciated its respect for Team Lotus history. However, then its license to use the Lotus name was terminated and things changed.

“During 2010, the Chapman Family, as and when appropriate, made it clear to those involved that it would prefer that the Team Lotus name should not be used in Formula One. Indeed, assurances to this effect were received.”

Once the licence from Group Lotus was withdrawn, one year into a five year agreement, Fernandes struck a deal with David Hunt who owned the rights to the Team Lotus name. Group Lotus dispute the rights and the matter will be heard in the High Court in London next summer.

But the loss of the backing of the Chapman family will be keenly felt by Fernandes. It takes away a key arm of legitimacy from his Lotus vision.

The end of the statement clearly spells out where the family’s loyalties lie,

“The Chapman Family is looking forward to continuing to give its support to Group Lotus, which is the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman. After all, the Lotus marque is the responsibility of Group Lotus, and Hethel is the home of Lotus.”

Team Lotus were unreachable this afternoon and neither Fernandes nor technical director Mike Gascoyne have made any comment via Twitter at this point. Fernandes’ last tweet said that he was going on holiday after a long, hard year. It just got harder.

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

I see and understand all the points.

But man…. Team Lotus is died in 1994.

Next thing you know someone will be trying to use other brands: Brabham, Cooper, and Tyrrell.

Silly I say but that is Formula One!


i generally don’t use the word sleazy when mentioning F1… I’d like to see how fat the envelope slid under the table was to the Chapman family?


Fernandes is better off giving his team his own sirname, and leaving Renault to deal with the two-faced Chapman family, after all those years with Flavio at the helm they’ll be used to it.


As an EX Team Lotus mechanic, (1967- 1972) I think the title belongs to Colin Chapman only, and is synonymous with all he did in, and for, motor racing. To try to use the famous name on a lesser team with no history is an insult. If you wish to race in F1, use your own name, do well, and claim your own accolades.

PS And its not easy.

Scarlet Pimpernell

Tisk…tisk James…You seem to be slowly moving away from Tony Fernandez and Mike Gascoyne’s Lotus Team…Nobody appreciatws a fickle journalist who has publixly made it clear that the road-going Lotus car manufacturer led by a megalomaniac named Danny Bahar is in the wrong. As for that ridiculous Chapman family, God knows how much money and-or perks they were offered by Group Lotus to switch their allegiance from Fernandes’ team. Only one thing is for certain: Colin Anthony Chapman’s spirit of racing and innovation lies in the current Lotus Team and Chapman’s body is turning in his grave. May God forgive you all for not telling the truth about this transgression…especially you James Allen ! Your credibility as an honest F1 journalist has been tarnished and your reputation as a sycophant has been strengthened.


Team Lotus’s spirit of innovation for 2011 lies firmly in the Red Bull technology coupled with Renault engines… Even their steering wheel came courtesy of Cosworth this year. Where’s the innovation gone?

I just feel sorry for the staff at 1Malaysia Racing as they will be demotivated by all the fuss that surrounds the team.

People tend to forget that Lotus Renault GP has been in F1 for 30 years and has competed under different names. They have invested heavily into the facilities and if the spirit of innovation exists, it certainly dwells in Enstone.


It’s called impartiality.


Get Lotus Curry House, a pretty famous restaurant chain in Malaysia to sponsor Fernandes’ team and it can be known as Lotus Renault!!


jean Alesi apparently supports Enstone based Lotus and says 2010 season version of Lotus (Tony’s version) should be wiped out of our memory as it’s a mighty shame to see Lotus cars at the back of the grid. I’m not too fluent in French but Jean says Tony’s Lotus is only linked to the original Team Lotus via stickers on the cars and nothing else. Ouch! Jean rocks!

PS Was bored with Christmas so was trying to feed my need for speed with looking at various websites.


Really, what has the Chapman family got to do with it in real terms?

Do they own Group Lotus? Team Lotus? or Lotus Racing?


Tweets from Tony on Christmas day = really low, most of them are primitive insults to Bahar and Group Lotus. And I hoped he would act like a grownup 🙁


Really beginning to lothe Genii Capital and group lotus. No support from me next year, lotus got free advertising last year and all positive as Lotus racing are well liked in the paddock and with the public. Chapman family yet again show that since colins death (rip) they are able to miss manage a situation


Hi James

Firstly Merry Christmas.

Any idea on what Mike Gasgoyne’s thoughts are on all of this? I seemed to remember that he was very into the Lotus Heritage last year, though that may just be the PR machine in action.

If Fernandes loses the Lotus name, or the legal battles get more protracted, could he walk away? I’d hope he would stay, and wonder if he has a shareholding in the team? If he leaves they’d be in massive trouble that can’t just be painted over…


I fell in love with the Lotus Seven at the age of ten, over 50 years ago, and some 14 years later, bought one. Heaven. Since the beginning I have been Lotus through and through, both road and racing. Since the very sad occasion of Colin’s death, nothing has affected me more than the squabbling over the Lotus F1 name. Has Bahar decided that as Lotus Racing was relatively ‘successful’ he could build on it with his background? This is what it appears to be. I was pleased that the brand did not disappear and that Proton invested in one of the best of British marques, but to cynically build on the achievements of another Team and arbitarily discard a contract as Bahar has done, quite frankly, stinks. I just wish there was a regulation that could be enforced of “Bringing the name of Lotus into disrepute”. !!!!! The whole business is very, very sad.


Good post… I feel your fustration. Its all very sad.


Well if the Chapmans are backing the former Renault team then I think that is when us Lotus fans do the same. However maybe Tony should bring the Tyrell name back into F1!

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Tony, let them keep the Lotus name.

Bahar’s disgraceful behaviour has devalued the spirit of the Lotus brand for all.

This whole issue stinks of a lack of integrity of those involved… Gascoigne and Fernandes.

And the flitting of the Chapman family from one side to the other is simply bewildering. Just because they are family of Clive Chapman does not necessarily mean that the represent his thoughts and wishes.


I can’t help but think the change in attitude might be more to do with the centre for classic team lotus that is being talked about.

I hope mike creates a great car next year. I agree about the name. Don’t give bahar and proton another days free advertising.

The massive investment will end in tears for lotus, and hopefully the proton board have the sense to pass it on to someone else. Anyone remember the farcical mv Augusta purchase.


The real tragedy is seeing this classic marque kicked around like a football!


Looks like bahar gets an early christmas present.

Tony should just forget this lotus name and build his own image instead.

If he’s lucky he can see lotus and all related to lotus go downward spiral if their (Group Lotus) venture into F1 went downsouth

Merry christmas James and happy new year!


What a shame. I think that’s probably it for Tony now, as regards using the Lotus name.

However, one must not forget that Group Lotus also supplies the licence for Classic Team Lotus to use the name they do, and now, apparently is going to make them a lovely new heritage centre.

It appears that Clive knows upon which side his bread is buttered.

Much good may it do him, when Bahar’s plans fall about his ears, dragging Proton down with him, and Tony buys the whole lot for one ringgit a few years down the line.


I have already said that I am disappointed in Team Lotus and Bahar for behaving in such a heavy handed way. I feel that they are trying to stamp on a good bunch of people with decent intentions.

I think that the U-turn of the Chapman family is, if anything, less palatable. They gave support to Fernandes and after a decent first season they seem to be helping Proton and Bahar in trying to finish off the current Lotus Racing outfit. Whether that is intentional or not they are not playing with a straight bat in my opinion. I hate that. Also, they sold the rights to all those names. So their posturing may be motivated by a desire to do the best for the memory or Colin Chapman and Lotus cars, but this muscling out of Fernandes is unpleasant and does the brand no good whatsoever

I think that Fernandes should give up on Lotus. I feel that as a team his group has a great deal of legitimacy and good will. The noble thing to do would be to dump Lotus, rebrand as 1Malaysia or whatever and get on with the racing. I’ll support them and even buy merchandise at any races I visit.

The point I had not considered is that Group Lotus might fail and we would truly lose that great British brand as we have with TVR. That would be a shame.

James, as they are entered as 1Malayasia, surely they can just use that name and keep their 2010 money?


It’s about the chassis name and that is Lotus


Instead of buying a brand, create one and sell it to a manufacturer, profit.

Brawn made money by selling team to Mercedes.

Fernandez is paying money for a team name???


What has become apparent through all of this is that the “Lotus” brand is very tainted in F1 now.

Personally, Proton Renault will never have my support in F1 (like they care for that anyway) and I will always root against them for winning anything (a race, the championship)… it’s a shame for both Kubica and Petrov as they are very likeable and talented drivers… but I just don’t want to see that car win.

Tony & Mike should remove the Lotus brand from their activities, clean up and create their own identity. They have done a fantastic job in 2010 and it is that the fans remember.


It wouldn’t be Formula 1 without at least one political wrangle very year, so here comes Lotus, and the other Lotus too. Some Malaysian national politics thrown in the mix as well.

Frankly, I like Fernandes and Gascoyne, and have been impressed with their efforts to create a competitive team from scratch. It’s not easy, especially for a non-manufacturer backed team to make a go of it in F1. I don’t care what the team is called next year, I’ll still be following them with great interest.

I would actually prefer them not to be called Lotus as this point since the name is so tainted with controversy now. Unfortunately, they might be stuck with the name, since it’s ont the entry list already (like the ‘BMW’ Sauber Ferrari abomination we had in 2010, *shudder*).

James, any idea on what it takes to change the chassis name without forfeiting the prize money?


Can I look at all this in a different way all together.

The Lotus brand was dead in F1.

Tony Fernandes, as a very acute business man, took the brand in F1 again, built up a very modern and structured new team and play the brand the all game of F1 very well.

For the last 10 months, despite Virgin was there, everyone inside and outised F1 has been talking about Lotus and they have outplayed Virgin at their own game, brand awarness.

Now this has been evolving for the last 12 months, the car did perfom reasonably well and it had the basis to do well this season as well.

Sitting in his office Mr Bahar might have thought: Hang on a minute, I am producing the Lotus road cars, can I get into the band wagon of Fernandes and use the now resurrected brand to sell more cars?

I think from a simple idea Mr Bahar has consulted several lawyers and, unfortunately for everyone, lawyers so big bucks to be made by a nice long court battle.

My personal opinion is very clear

Lotus will be part of the Renault family and will become the sport branch of the group, it could be as collaboration or aquisition.

The F1 Lotus Renault team will continue to be as such under Boullier guide and Genii capital.

Tony Fernandes will still be in F1 and I conseider him the real winner.

Nobody before the start of the season has seen this happening and fernandes with his people has created a F1 team liked by everyone, more TV coverage than anyone else of the the new and mid-field team, Gascoigne going to the BBC F1 Forum more than once.

Fernandes participating to the live F1 Forum in London shoulder to shoulder with Ferrari, McLaren, mercedes adn Force India was a real great coup.

Overall F1 paddock should be grateful that such a maverick had decided to come into F1 and I hope he will stay for a little bit longer.

Airborne Williams Cap

Personally I don’t care what Tony Fernandes’ team is called, I think they have earned the respect of every F1 fan by starting from nothing and finishing their first year in a commendable 10th place. They have showed that their ability, dertermination and spirit belongs in F1 and their technical partnerships with Red Bull and Renault show they have serious ambitions for furure seasons.

They are a breath of fresh air and I for one think they add significantly to the ethos of Formula 1.


Exactly why I will be supporting them next year, regardless of the team name.

A redbull/renault backend should be a benchmark package, so its all about the aero….


That was a turn in the plot I wasnt expecting, given the support they gave to Lotus Racing last year.

The whole thing has turned into a mess in my opinion.

I won’t criticise the chapman family for changing their minds though. That is entirely for them to chose who does and does not fit in with their views.

It also doesnt stop me from supporting the Lotus racing team, or whatever they will be called if not lotus. They have come into F1, started with nothing and built up some great experienced people and racers.

This is the side of F1 I always find tedious. On an aside, I am sure Colin Chapman wouldnt have wanted “his Lotus” dragged through the mud in public like it has been (regardless of which side you support).

Merry christmas to everyone by the way! Best wishes for 2011.


If retiring the name “Team Lotus” had been so important to the Chapman family maybe they should have bought it years ago. It just demonstrates that they are not racers and they they don’t understand that “Group” are using them. I have been an ardent fan of Team Lotus since 1977 and I suspect that Colin Chapman’s spirit is fully behind the guys at Hingham. Next year and going forward my heart will be following Team Lotus 100%. Whatever “Lotus Renault” aka Renault, aka Benetton, aka Toleman ( have I missed any previous incarnations?) is of no interest to me. Group Lotus will fold in thr next few years when Proton realize they’ve been taken for a ride, (Danny B. will have already jumped ship by then) and Tony can then bring it all together. Maybe then the Chapmans will change their mind once again. As someone else said: “Forza Team Lotus”!


Well said!

Tony Fernandes HAS TO continue with Team Lotus, in case Lotus Group folds in three years time. I do not want to see Team Lotus’s faith linked with the madness of Bahar!

Merry Christmas to you all and the one and only true Team Lotus of Mike Gascoigne, Tony Fernandes and James Hunt!

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