F1 Winter Break
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The statement, written by Clive, says that now Group Lotus has withdrawn the licence for Fernandes’ team to use the Lotus name in F1 and particularly now that Fernandes has responded by rebranding his outfit as Team Lotus, which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Once the licence from Group Lotus was withdrawn, one year into a five year agreement, Fernandes struck a deal with David Hunt who owned the rights to the Team Lotus name.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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Can you blame Fernandes for securing the Team Lotus name once his Group Lotus contract was prematurely terminated?

I know their team isn't a high performer, but they were the best of the new teams, and with Mike Gascoyne keeping everyone informed through twitter I have really warmed to them and wish them well.

I think they did a good job in their first year and as the rug has been (meanly?) pulled from under their feet, you can hardly blame them for looking for some way to have continuity. Lotus sounds much better to me (and other F1 fans?) than Team Malaysia, or whatever the options might have been.

I wish them well. As for Renault (sorry, I mean Lotus) - I can't forgive them for the way things panned out under Briatore, and now they are muscling in on a brand they fancy having - they don't get my sympathy at all.


Fully agree, I understand that the family do not own the Team Lotus Brand but still have connections (one assumes) with the Lotus Racing brand and for good (financial??) reasons I suppose would follow it's support.

Team Lotus has my support this coming year even without the Family support I wish them all the best and hope that at least once this year the finish ahead of Lotus Renault and hold back from any of the bitching and politics around the situation they find themselves in.

Go Team Lotus However...

This story is not finished, Lotus Renault is just a sponsor, next year (or during this year) they will become part owner and the playing field for the two lotus brands will change... only getting dirtier I guess, based on the responses from Lotus Renault we have seen so far, watch this space. I hope Tony and Mike rise above it all and simply become the true 'Team Lotus' by their actions and great attitude to F1 racing.


Totally agree. The Chapman family are making a fool out of themselves. The fact that they don't want Team Lotus name to be used is one thing. The fact to switch the support to Proton project is absolutely stunning and I see only one reason for that (Financial).

Bahar showed great skills though to weaken Fernandes position. He want to push him out indirectly and then take slowly but surely the Lotus Team heritage. I saw photos of Lotus Group Malaysia factory where Chapman F1 cars are painted and advertised. The choice of the Gold Black liverly is also a testimony to the F1 team heritage so he's fooling no one by suggesting that he want to start a new separate Lotus adventure.


I'd guess that the Family have now been put on "Contract" to Team Renault - for such an about face.(Shows how dirty Renault are being)

Up to you Tony where you go from here - I'll still support you - Your team still have a bigger and better personality than Team Renault so all the best for 2011 -

Not sure if the fight is worth it now - You'll still be a good Team named whatever you fancy.


It's not really Renault involved at all anymore except as an engine supply. How can Gerard Lopez really say no to $1.2Billion investment? He knows the importance of investors and if it's his company's name, but not his money, he's making the right move for his balance sheets.


renault is still involved in LRGP and not only as a motorist. They are involved in Enstone and in the chassis activity.


And ?

I'm not talking about ownership or finance. I'm talking about technique. Yes Renault is no more involved in the mangement or in the finance but is still involved in the engine AND the chassis activity. Now, its role is purely technical.

They no more finance Enstone, they only pay their employees working there.


Actually they were completely bought out by Genii and Group Lotus. Renault doesn't have at ownership anymore


Wow. Pretty devastating blow for Tony and Mike there, methinks...

Surely we will see "1Malaysia Renault" on the grid next year, with some FOTA shepherded deal to ensure that Fernandes's team keeps their FOM money from 2010 season..



If FOTA were to strike a deal for Tony to keep the 2010 money, wouldn't they need a unanimous approval from all teams? Are Lotus GP likely to approve that?


In order to get the name they want..I'd have thought so, wouldn'r you? Ferrari, however, might drive a harder bargain, given their views on new teams.


Renault Competed as Benetton Renault for the first year of the takeover to ensure they didn't lose any cash from the previous season. This was back when Jenson was driving for them with Fisi and they were mucking about with that 111 degree wide angle V10 that rattled itself to bits if they tuned it over 600bhp.


What exactly is the difference between Group Lotus changing Renault's name to 'Lotus' and various name changes from the past? Did Renault have to give up tv money when they took over Benetton (and changed the chassis manufacture name? Did Mercedes lose money when they bought out Brawn (nee Honda)?

Always been a slight grey area for me.


Very disappointing. Fernandes deserves better than what's happened to him over the last couple of months.


I can't help but feel there's more going on behind the scenes here than we're privy to.

Everything seems to be stacking up against Tony & Mike, and to me they have done everything right so far - respectable first year, no pay drivers, decent development plan and respect for the history behind the name.

I can't believe for one moment that Bahar has so much support - there must surely be someone else pulling strings somewhere?


I can understand that the Chapman family is upset about using the Team Lotus name. But that doesn't make endorsing the Group Lotus sponsored team the only alternative.

Frankly, I can't imagine Clive Chapman being too happy with Bahar's grand plans of turning Lotus into a Ferrari/Lamborghini/Aston Martin rival overnight either. The sensible thing for the family to do would have been to stay out of the whole mess and come back once the dust settles.

James, is there something deeper going on with regards to this about-face? Or is it only about Fernandes using the Team Lotus name when he was asked not to?


This is very sad to me. I really admire what Fernandes and Gascoyne had achieved this year, and this is a shame what happened recently. However, I really think negotiations between Fernandes and Group Lotus come to the point of uttering an absurdity because of the position of Fernandes. It is not in the interest of Group Lotus to have another team with Lotus name on the grid, eventhough they are saying otherwise.

I really doubt that Chapman's family would have turned around from Fernandes if he did everything properly. What he did wrong, I don't think we will ever now.

But still, I'm really looking forward to see what Fernandes and Gascoyene will achieve next year and will support them, because I like their team spirit!


It reads as if Tony made an agreement with the Clive and Hazel Chapman to never revive the Team Lotus name. There was no need when they had the blessing of Group Lotus. Then Bahar comes in and terminates the contract to use the Lotus name.

Without a contract from Gourp Lotus, the only way to call your F1 team Lotus is to be "Team Lotus". So no wonder That Clive and Hazel are upset - that was Colin's team that they want to remain that way. Of course, legally the new "Team Lotus" are probably able to continue, but without the blessing of the Chapman family. Why they sold the "Team Lotus" rights, and then didn't buy them back from David Hunt is the mystery.


Money rules everything in F1. What Fernandes & Gascoyne have achieved in one year is more in the spirit of Chapman's Team Lotus than a Malaysian car manufacturer's long term marketing plan will ever be.

Whether Team Lotus is considered part of the Lotus heritage or not is irrelevant as Group Lotus' endeavours can never be anyway.

I see Group Lotus doing a Jaguar/Honda and giving up at the drop of a hat when it suits them. There will be no promises and no racing principles upheld i'm sure. It's about money at the end of the day.

The Chapmans however will get something from it before that happens i'm sure. It will still be a Proton/Renault as far as i'm concerned.


If money is everything, what makes Fernandez's plans any better than other teams? Many other privateer teams have come and gone, and I'm less optimistic that Fernandez has the long-term steam to do justice to Team Lotus..

So, my opinion is, this is F1 and we should let them fight it out.. that's the stuff that spurs competition, and only the future holds the answers... so, for now, let the battle of the Lotus begin!!


Bahar sure does seem quite sneaky and I'm sure money has played a part in all this. Screw it, time to find a new name. No point in continuing this fight. While the sudden flip flop (at least according to what Fernandes has been clamining up to now) makes one wonder, it doesn't matter. Forget the name Lotus and move on.


Yes..you are right, he should just use AIR ASIA name like Sir Richard did with Virgin team..


I think he should rebrand his team as something to take a stab at BaharLotus: something like Orchid GP?



Beyond sentimental reasons (which seem to have little place in F1/business nowadays -- see: historic vs. new tracks), why would the Chapman's have any say with anything Lotus? Back in the day, didn't the family sell both the Team Lotus and Group Lotus entities?

If I sell my car, I don't have any say on who the buyer might one day sell the car to (nor do my descendents). What makes this any different?


and it was not even your car, it was your dads!


Both good points.


It’s bad news for Tony, but for me is not a surprise. There were rumours about it for some months, so this is not stunning.

But let’s be honest: it’s just a detail. Chapman familiy doesn’t have any power now. Just the moral part of the thing, and this news doesn’t say that Bahar and Lotus Cars won the case. Actually, we all know that in 2011 they will race as Renault, while FIA probably will tell them that Fernandes has the rights to race as “Team Lotus” and be the heir of Champan’s legacy. Even without the aproval of Hazel and Clive.


Beyond sentimental reasons (which seem to have little place in F1/business nowadays -- see: historic vs. new tracks), why would the Chapman's have any say with anything Lotus? Back in the day, didn't the family sell both the Team Lotus and Group Lotus entities?

If I sell my car, I don't have any say on who the buyer might one day sell the car to (nor do my descendents). What makes this any different?


At last a step in the right direction.

Now if the family will take the same stance with the other mob too, hopefully the second coming will be averted and a great racing memory won't be sullied by these pretenders.


Wow, that was unexpected, perhaps Bahar has paid the Chapman family for their support. I am sure Tony Fernandes is feeling rather betrayed by this, if I was him I would throw the name away now and rebrand his team.


I think this is a crushing blow to Fernandes' vision. It robs him of the legitimacy he's been seeking, as you said James. Having the Chapmans on board was key to that.

I do not think Fernandes should keep the Team Lotus name even if he is victorious in the courts. 1Malaysia GP, anyone?


As a mere fan it's becoming increasingly hard to know which Lotus to support. OK, I know where my heart is, it's with Fernandes outfit, in purely racing terms (and will remain so regardless of what name they go racing under). But in the context of what's right for Lotus I can't be alone in feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place.

I know plenty of people will hail Group Lotus as the "real" Lotus, and there's a lot of truth to that insofar as Team Lotus and Group Lotus share common lineage, but it would be grossly unfair to cast Lotus Racing and Tony Fernandes as some kind of charlatan who stole the Lotus name, and it would be really refreshing for someone on the Group Lotus side to acknowledge that.


I wonder how much of this support is driven by Group Lotus licencing the Classic Team Lotus name to Clive Chapman?


I'd love to see a poll of how many fans care what the team is called. Personally I don't. Just show up to race.

You don't carve out your own identity and your own brand, this is what you get.


Put me in the don't care camp. I am not at all interested in whatever that slow green thing at the back is called. How about Team Slow?

All this Lotus stuff is becoming increasingly tedious.


It is easy to judge and I like to dish it out a much as anyone. But Christmas has softened me up for a day or two.
So I will say that I don't mind new teams, even if they take their time to come up to speed. But this whole Lotus pay-off fight is really really boring, even in the off season. I wish we could talk about what is the favorite TV show in the off season instead, or is Schumi's favorite color is still red, or if if Vettel is being sued be Vattel water as the brands have similar spelling.

Does anyone else think that Schumi's fave show is Breaking Bad? 🙂


I totally agree. If Fernandes wants to create an F1 heritage for his team, he needs to give it a unique identity. It's his money and work that's going into the team, I'm surprised he's not wanted to see his name up in lights when they start to go places.


My thoughts exactly!


On the face of it this is very disappointing news, I have a soft spot for the Fernandes "Lotus" set up and they seemed to bring some fun to the corporate merry-go-round that F1 has become. That said Tony Fernandes is, of course, a businessman and not a sentimental philanthropist and the team will not disappear. Due to the prize money structure I presume Team Lotus will continue alongside a rival "Lotus" branded team. As a, very distant, observer I'm not aware of all the political shennanigans behind this move but it gives fuel for gossip-mongering and endless speculation in the close season.


Poor poor Tony Fernandes. It just keeps getting worse for his Team Lotus hopes and dreams. I have a feeling that the Chapman family just want whatever will bring them success easier and faster. It's just too bad because Tony was doing it to honor the Team Lotus way and name...Bahar is just doing it to sell road cars.


Oh please! Fernandes wanted to Lotus brand so he could exploit the brand recognition to build a Virgin-style empire. Did you know that he launched an energy drink off the back of Lotus Racing? All the tosh he spouts about continuing the Lotus heritage is merely PR bull to get the fans onside. What amazes me is how many people have fallen for it!


I don't give a damn what Tony's team is called. But I'm behind his team all the way simply because of the spunk they've shown and for achieving what no other new team has been able to achieve since Super Aguri... the position of lovable underdogs who are actually not going to be underdogs for long.

This is what I as a fan loves to see, a team come into F1 without picking up an older chassis (ala Super Aguri, STR) and still move forward over the course of a full season. Much better than listening to folks like ProDrive, Villeneuve, Epsilon Euskadi, etc make noises every year about joining, but not joining.


Totally agree with u..


Thatll be 'Team Air Asia F1' for next year presumably then?


Bye-bye Tony Bye-bye Team 'fake' Lotus!!


No there is an intelligent response....FAKE ...go figure


I'm thoroughly surprised at this. I would have thought the family would have seen through the posturing and games that Danny Bahar is playing at right now.

Fernandes has earned the respect of the paddock and of the fans. The Chapman family may just have lost that.


I agree.

Its all about Classic Team Lotus and how difficult Proton can make for the Chapmans.

Tony cannot make things difficult for Chapmans but Proton can.


Agreed also.


Well said. 100% agree.


I commend the Chapman family for this courageous step that will hopefully lead to a clean up of this mess.

Group Lotus is indeed the ongoing entity that was started by Chapman. And in that spirit I believe that the Chapman family backed a return of the Lotus name to F1.

I think Fernandes looks bad as one who bought the "Team Lotus" brand name and presumably wanting to sell it to Group Lotus (together with the entire new F1 team)

Perhaps Fernandes was better off consulting the Chapman family when running into trouble with Group Lotus, instead of initiating the rebranding based on "Team Lotus".

This position he finds himself in jeopardizes the entire new F1 team. I can imagine all those sponsors like Hackett, CNN etc wondering where to go. For them it would make sense to jump ship and head to Lotus Renault.

Having said this I do think Fernandes is a marketing whiz who could pull off a re-branding to an Malaysian F1 team...

Now would be the moment to change course...

Not a nice situation to be in for Fernandes.

Bahar/Group Lotus have their stuff coming together:

1) Kubica / Petrov

2) Historic Black Gold livery

3) Renault / Enstone built F1 car

4) Funding in place (partly due to Russian sponsors)

5) Potentially more sponsors to feature on the Black Gold livery....

6) Chapman family support

7) Lotus roadcars linkage...


Coming together my a*se.

Those 7 points count for nothing. This will be decided in the courts now and David Hunt has set the precident with hie previous battles. That is all that matters in law, the rest is all flimflam.

If Bahar had not got petty with Lotus Racing the parties would have got along fine and to each others benefit. This boils down to Bahar wanting to rub Ferraris nose in it for his departure, laughable in itself. To do this he sold his big idea to Proton but the deal for Lotus Racing was already done. Fernandes only purchased the Team Lotus rights when it became difficult with Bahar, not to sell them to Proton, and was forced to this to protect his investment.

The question you raise of sponsors migrating to Group would be bad move due to the overwhelming support for Fernandes and Team Lotus in the face of Bahars bullying tactics, everyone loves an underdog!

Then we have the Chapmans. Group/Bahar have shown themselves to be business bullies and with this in mind would it be possible that Clive has to look after the interests of Classic Team Lotus.

Your views seem to lack a certain understanding of what is about to happen because the Chapmans and the points you make are all irrelevant. David Hunt has taken all comers to court on this matter in past and won. This is a legal matter and the legal precident has been set, nothing else matters


Re the funding, didn't Proton say that the whole Lotus Group marketing budget (somewhere between 15-20 million pounds) would be put into F1 to be the marketing vehicle to promote the 5 new Lotus sports car models, which are presently under development using the 800 million pound investment by the Malaysian government. I expect Proton, being a government-owned loss-making company, must be anxious to see signs of a return on investment pretty soon, such as their F1 team doing so well that the orders for Lotus cars will be mounting and breaking records. Taxpayers will also be interested. Fascinating.


"I expect Proton, being a government-owned loss-making company, must be anxious to see signs of a return on investment pretty soon, such as their F1 team doing so well that the orders for Lotus cars will be mounting and breaking records. Taxpayers will also be interested."

They will both end up disappointed!


In all honesty, I think all parties should just let LOTUS die.

Its not the same team(s) as it was in the 60's to 80's, and, no amount of rebranding is going to bring it back.

I am tired of all of this.


So what name should the maker of Lotus cars run under?

Mercedes, Renault, BMW, Toyota, Honda, Jaguar in the recent past had the rights to have the name of the cars they manufacture on their cars

=> why not Lotus cars?


I agree. Let sleeping dogs lie.


I am bound to receive some heat for this but nevertheless:

All of this drama over a backmarker team is ridiculous. If red bull or some other front runner had been rebranded to Lotus then sure, it matters.

But Lotus is running in the back, and I find it pretty silly that everyone is freaking out so much about it.

Focus on improving your car, then worry about what name and color it will race as. I realize that Lotus was the best new team last year and showed promise, but it still has an enormous amount of work to do and it should not get distracted by things that ultimately do not matter.


I can't agree more. Of course they did a respectable work given that they were granted an entry only in September.

But yet they were still miles away from the others, and now they must prove that they are serious.

But who said "being serious" grants the right to be called Lotus?


Pure disgrace to have this going on, Clive hasnt a clue anymore so sit down and keep shut. Tony F is a great job with Team Lotus and they should be proud of what is going on


So it's a done deal - we'll have a "true" Lotus backed by Chapmans while racing a Renault car with a Renault engine, and the Fernandes team racing (most likely) under some other name racing a Lotus car so that they don't lose the FIA money from last season... How absurd is that???


I feel that this is depreciating the "Lotus" name, as I feel the Chapman family feels the same. I think Tony Fernandes should now concentrate on developing his own brand name in Formula One. He owns a number of companies which Im sure would feel the benefit from title sponsorship, or more dominating presence on the car and switch his attention away from the Lotus brand.

The team itself is doing a remarkable jobgiven its time in the sport. The team beat the other two new teams and so had the best car, especially given the lack of time they had to get ready for the season. Next year Id expect them to hit the midfield area and grab the odd point.

Next year should be interesting on how they will do against the "new" teams given their one year of experience, how will the team do with other teams (Toro Rosso/Sauber) and of course the batlle on and off the track with the Lotus Renault Team.


Yeah "owns a number of companies.." which is public listed company...the man using public money for his personal interest...


Not so. As a publicly listed company people have a choice about what they invest in. The Malaysian tax payers have no such choice over Proton/Lotus Renault!


FYI, Proton is a public listed company aswell..so as you mentioned.."As a publicly listed company people have a choice about what they invest in.." as well...


So the Chapman family who used to support Lotus Racing, are now supporting the people that took the licence away from a team they allegedly supported?

"They twist and turn like a twisty turney thing." 😉


As expected... Bahar is not the monster many people said he was - he's a sensible guy. I mean only by reading Tony's twitter - where he calls Kovalainen "Kovaleninen" and Gascoyne "Gasgoigne" - you can tell he's not really into F1 at all. A business opportunity preseted itself and Tony took it. He's not producing Lotus road cars so why bother? Take Arrows name instead or Brabham... Minardi would be more popular I think.


Probably tweets from a phone which auto-"corrects" Kovaleinen and Gascoyne. Or maybe he's dyslexic. Or maybe something else.

Quite how that shows that he's not really into F1, I'm not really sure.


He may be dyslexic indeed... No idea to be honest. The logic is - if you can't spell correctly the names of your top employees, it means you're more interested in something else.

Tony seems a bit artificial to me, he replaced Paul Stoddart as F1's biggest troublemaker and fans' favourite as this altruist super hero who's not interested in money, while in reality his aim is to sell the team in the future and cash in on his investment. I'm not buying it (his tirades - not his team).

Besides, after being a guest of Enstone based Lotus on a couple of occasions and seeing the level of professionalism there, I'll go with them. Tony's team will take about 10 years to get to the level of Lotus Renault GP, so you can't blame Bahar for his decision and ultimately Lotus Group shareholders for their move.

There are no good guys or bad guys in F1 - it's all a myth people like to beLIEve in. For 99,9% of F1 fans the vision of things is as follows: "I is hates your fav driver and you is hates my fav team so I is hates yous".


Do you think Tony does his own tweets...


WOnder how much Danny Boy paid them?


Not paid, possibly threatened!


Well thats a stab in the back. So much for the efforts Tony made to promote lotus. I would have thought Colin would have tried to bridge the gap, rather then pick a side.

Perhaps its time for TF to reconsider his options.

Its a real shame. However Team Lotus is a legal entity and the reality is TF doesn't require Clive's permission to use it as he see's fit within F1.

Team Lotus is an F1 team constructor. Group lotus is just a car manufacturer of reasonable sport cars.

This is all very damaging for Proton's sub brand.


"So much for the efforts Tony made to promote lotus"

it's contrary actually - Tony Fernandes needed Lotus to promote his team.

Sorry but anybody can enter F1 and do the same, but it has nothing to do with being an extension of historical Team Lotus tradition. Pathethic.


Proton have its own market...it wont damage any of its brand..dont worry !!


It goes both ways actually. Fernandes could just as well have promoted Air Asia, which would have made more business sense for him.


This is so sad on many levels


Just what the hell is going on with this story? It just gets weirder and weirder and now its simply tiresome.

Chris from Adelaide

I think its sad what all this has turned into. I have nothing but respect for what Fernandes and Gascoyne are trying to achieve in Formula 1, but its looking more and more like they are fighting an up-hill battle.


Do you think this makes a change of name for Team Lotus more likely than before James? They've given up on the black and gold livery but were adamant they were keeping the Lotus name, but the cards all seem to be stacking against them now.


It certainly complicates things


This whole saga is just so wrong. I feel so sorry for Tony Fernandes, who is just being bullied into dropping the Lotus name that he revived in F1.


chapmans get a cheeky payment into their account then change their tune?


At last. No arguments besides the bought name from Hunt remained for Tony's Lotus. I hope he'll be sensible and back out from using Lotus naming and image.


I still don't understand why the Team Lotus name is so important to Fernandes. Surely the cars would go just as fast if they were called "Team Fernandes" or "Team Visit Malaysia it's great!"


I think Marketing is one definitive, however I believe Fernandes 'had' a patriotic allegiance to Proton. He is pushing the Malaysian owned lotus sub brand which would benefit his companies (Malay based) and also Proton (Malay based).

Also I believe he is a enthusiast and genuine.


One point I haven't seen raised.

If the application for a place in F1 had been as Air Asia rather than Lotus, would it have been successful? Somehow I doubt it.

Tony Fernandez realised this and very shrewdly signed a five year licensing deal to use the name.

He then had the rug pulled from under him by Danny Bahar, who had arrived at Group Lotus after the naming deal was signed.

Fernandez might well rather have the team called something else now, but as I understand it, he can't just change the name without consequences. Hence the backup plan to use the Team Lotus name.


"Also I believe he is a enthusiast and genuine"

I agree they best on the grid


Interesting points. I just don't see it like that at all.

Exploiting the full marketing potential is in itself not a bad thing. T shit sales wont increase the share price. Group lotus and proton win more with world exposure. They should be greatful.

Tony is a good guy. It comes across in his passion for the sport.


Fernandes' appplication for a spot on the F1 grid would never have been successful without the support of the Malaysian government. In order to get that spport, promises were made (e.g. the team's technical base was to be at Sepang and there were going to be partnerships with Malaysian companies and universities). However, once he had the F1 entry, Fernandes was more interested in exploiting the Lotus brand by, for example, launching a new energy drinks company off the back of the Lotus brand (LR8), than he was in fulfilling those promises. He even boasted that Air Asia had made a lot of money selling Lotus t-shirts. That's why he has lost the support of people like Dr Mahathir Mohamad (former prime minister of Malaysia).

Now it turns out that he KNEW the Chapman family didn't want the Team Lotus name to return to F1 and, despite having exploited their original endorsement of the Lotus Racing deal, to garner support from the fans, decided to ignore their wishes and press on with his plan to use the Team Lotus brand.

He was probably betting that the Chapmans would keep quiet but it's all coming apart at the seams now.

I feel most sorry for Gascoyne and his team, who have been used by Fernandes in his attempt to emulate his former employer Richard Branson, in building a Virgin lookalike by misappropriating the Lotus brand.


I don't hear General Motors complaining... and they owned the company much more recently than anyone in the Chapman family. I guess that realise that when you sell something, it then belongs to someone else...

Much as I respect what was done with Lotus under C.C., the family is not the owner any more, and hasn't been for what, 27 years now... Move on.


Fernandes: "Well they could have told us *before* we put up the signs this 'arvie!".

Getting close to the full story now, the Chapman family was always behind Group, and because Group gave Fernandes naming rights, by association supported his work.

Fernandes understands the value of a brand. It is like giving deep roots to a young tree - it seems to have a solid foundation, which attracted the sponsors, the engineers, the no. 2 drivers. It is popular because it is called Lotus, and although they finished top of the 3 newbies, their performance gap to Virgin racing, I felt, was sometimes exaggerated. I don't claim to know the averages over the season, that is just my impression.

I support Fernandes because he is shrewd and is clearly passionate about F1. We need more passionate F1 guys running teams.

If they roll out a solid chassis with red bull's drive train next year, they'll have a leg-up into the mid-field, and the brand will have served its purpose (at least in the short term). They will lose some momentum if they lose the name, but at least its given them a kickstart in the right direction.


It will be very interesting to see what happens next. I feel sorry for Fernandes. In an interview that was published on the BBC he stated he never wanted to use the Team Lotus name so it would rest with Clive Chapman, and he only brought the rights to the name when he became concerned about Group Lotus intentions. I guess only time will tell whether Group Lotus ambitious racing plan will pay off.

James, do you have any inside knowledge regarding the Chapman's family decision? (apart from what is in official press releases). I can understand them not wanting the name Team Lotus being used, but I feel for Fernandes who originally thought he had 5 years to use Lotus Racing, though there are two sides to every story.


Well it looks like after all their very hard work this year Fernandez and Gascoigne have been stitched up royally by Chapman et al. I have been impressed by their first year in F1 and regardless of the outcome they have won the PR battle in my eyes.

Long live Air Asia F1!


Nah... *if they have to change it'll be to something like "Hibiscus F1" thus subtly reminding you they were Lotus.


Fernandes and Gascoyne did a great job to bring the Lotus name back into the sport. A shame that it looks like they will lose out on this one.


They've been bought then? Money talks in the modern world and positively screams in F1.


Who cares what the Chapman family think? If Colin was alive today it's clear who HE would support and it wouldn't be corporate stealth artists...

As long as Tony maintains the support of the fans, the rest is irrelevant. Long live Team Lotus and everything it stands for!


Let's not sanctify CABC - he'd have supported whoever brought the most money, regardless of where it came from. A great engineer, innovator and interpreter of the rules but not one for sentiment when there was cold hard cash involved.


rofl. for sure you know this better, have you tried some spiritualistic sessions? LOL


What a mess. A sad situation.


The Group Lotus seems to be hell bent on making Fernandes back down. It is likely some money changed hands here. Even so, the worst thing that can happen to Fernandes is he will have to change the name. I believe however, even if it does happen it won't be the end of the world, that some positives can be found and a whole new project can be born. The fans are going nowhere, just keep the thing rolling Tony!

I just hope this issue will not cause fans to feel hatred towards any of the involved people, especially the ones who did nothing wrong like the drivers. I can see some already start to take thing personally which is never a good idea.


Blimey. Great story James.

It seems like many of us feel the same way and we've all been shocked.

It's like a Christmas cliffhanger in a soap opera...

There's a good book in all this Lotus revival story James when it gets finally resolved 😉


Long live Fernandes F1!!! let Lotus Renualt go play around for a couple of years, then when Mr Bahr runs out of other People's money you'll Be there to take back the Lotus mantle.


Disappointing comments from the Chapman family. Lets be clear, there is only one thing they're interested in and that's money IMO.


I think they (Chapman family) see a better chance of success with the Group tie up, TF was a longshot for victories, he has gained strong following for the underdog midfield support fan base,

but not for F1 victories/championships. No offence, but Mike G couldnt design a winning car with the biggest budget in F1 (Toyota).

Renault have won this decade!


Um, because just as the car was getting good, they sacked him for being so outspoken about the move to Bridgestone tyres, when the car was designed for Michelins?

Let us not forget, he built Jordan into a winning team, and also rescued Benetton from their late-90s doldrums and built them into the winning team of 2005 & 2006 (leaving just before they got there).


You have any proof of that?


Come on, don't be so naive. Of course they do. I'm sure they're telling themselves they care about the spirit of Team Lotus, but money talks!


the proof is they backed Group Lotus in a public statement. That's all the proof anybody needs James.

Just think BBC, World Cup and it not being held in the UK... We are not stupid and we are all able to read between the lines.

Oh, I forgot, I'm not supposed to be following F1 anymore, I must be a real addict or something 😛


Sorry but that doesn't prove anything.


I'm devastated by some of the comments here.

1. How on earth do you know what Colin would do? [mod]

The only people entitled to express an opinion somehow close to Colin's are his family members and you are denying them the right to do so. Brilliant!

2. Funny thing, when Tony was boasting with Chapmans' support it was legitimate, important, decisive. Now it's not. Hypocrisy.

3. Most of you don't even care to see the reason stated by Clive in the statement why they don't support Fernandes anymore. He clearly stated that all parties agreed to leave the Team Lotus name alone, and Tony defaulted on this promise. Bahar's guys stick to the idea, therefore they have Chapmans' support. Fair and square.

Come on! Wake up! Start thinking!


What about the Lotus Racing deal?

Has that slipped your memory. That is why Fernandes had to go for Lotus Racing. What the Chapmans think doesnt matter, David Hunt had Team Lotus to sell not Clive Chapman. Please remind me who sold it to him?

Clive Chapmans thoughts are as relevant as Nigel Mansells.


Add me to the list of people agreeing with this. While I found myself cheering for Lotus very early on in the season, you cannot deny what the Chapmans say they feel about the use of the phrase 'Team Lotus.'

That said, I think that Bahar and Proton are on a road to disaster with their plans for extending the Lotus range. At that stage how they do in F1 will be irrelevant.


I support you 100%


because he got a HUGE wedge of cash to say exactly that maybe?. I personally couldn't care less if "Team Lotus" were called "Team [mod]". Tony and Mike did a cracking job with the Lotus team in 2010 and FULLY DESERVE all credit due to them. The name means nothing really. The true fans would follow Tony and Mike regardless of what they are called in 2011.


Indeed, the true fans will remain with Tony no matter what. But the reactions of so called fans is rather focused on being the heir to the Chapman's Lotus. I have nothing against Tony and his team, they did a decent job and wish them all the best, but without the usurped Lotus legacy. They should rebrand to one of Tony's brands and build their own legend. Tony's actions however indicate that he's more about the Lotus brand, which is not his as we know, than the racing team. And that's sad. I honestly wait for Tony to be the decent man many people claim for him to be and leave the Lotus image and back out from all of this mess with honor. If he's the man he claims to be, ho won't need Lotus to achieve success. However if owning a famous name tag and pretending he is what he isn't is more important for him, then many people should feel cheated.


I share the sentiment in this post.

It's unfortunate that Tony has spent a wad of cash branding his building etc, but essentially the best thing they can do now is move on from the Lotus name and create their own brand and identity.

Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you...

Team "Tony & Mike F1" and their 2011 challenger "TM02".


Re your point 3. We don't know what was the sequence of events, what was cause and effect and we don't know what is spin for the public.


This is the most sensible post I have read on the whole issue. I also think it is bang out of order to deride the views of the Chapmans and I also very much dislike many comments on this blog.


what's in a name? Red Bull has evolved it's 2010 team and car from several failed teams and won both championships this year. Its the people that count (esp Adrian Newey methinks) Te true Lotus people moved or passed on long ago meaning both teams fighting for the use of the name are absolutely nothing to do with Chapman's Team Lotus.

Of course people will witter about the power of "brand". Fernandes should remember he's built a pretty successful group of companies e.g. Air Asia without using a previously successful brand name. Perhaps he should withdraw from this spat and name his team to support his other ventures, employ more people like Mike G and win some races...

I really wish him good luck, he comes across as a truly good bloke


Yes he should rename his team to "AIR ASIA F1 TEAM" like Sir Rirhard did...why want to throw money on legal fees..???


He'd lose his prize money from 2010 by changing the chassis name..


Good lord you would think they could fix that.


That (silly) rule could be overlooked by the FIA on this occasion. This petty squabbling is doing the sport no favours. A quiet word from FIA to Tony Fernandez would probably be enough to sort this out and I doubt FOTA would block it.

Mohammed Al-Momen

James can you do a post that clarifies these commercial rules?


Agreed, this corporate P!$$!ng contest MUST stop. If there is one sure fire way to ruin a good thing is the flexing of corporate muscles... although, I would chuckle pretty loudly if the courts went in Tony's favour 😛


Something makes me think Fernandez will stick in it a little bit longer to solidify his martyr status before giving up to lick his wounds with his faithul fans. Meanwhile Bahar whether deserving of this or not is going to be a bad guy and any success this year could very well be tainted due to the way they are having to pursue this. Someone called this very clearly back with the black and gold livery dispute, I doubt Fernandez was gonna rav it but now Proton Renault now looks like a middle school copycat


I think Tony should step away from what is now a very tainted Lotus brand. Admittedly he's invested a lot into the resurrection of the Lotus name in F1 but Group Lotus no longer want to play that game. It was really only rent-a-name for the 2010 season.

F1 fans have long memories, we all know the Red Bull was originally a Jaguar/Stewart, Mercedes was Brawn/Honda/BAR/Tyrrell & Group Lotus was Renault/Benetton/Toleman etc. Evolution is a major part of F1 so I don't think a Fernandes-Renault would look out of place on next years grid.


Wow, just goes to show every person has their price.

Sometimes I just feel this EnstoneTeam, regardless of Owner/TitleSponser (Benetton,Renault,GeneCapital,Lotus) will go down historically as the most immoral race team in its lifetime. No? Would make for an interesting book, the stories it could tell.

Why does this team even have fans?


Meeklo - You call it immoral - Those in the know would call it the most genius soapopera EVER.

As for the 'tell all' book - it would NEVER get published...unless it had half-truths at best.

Millions of people will support LotusRenault GP

It's the motorsport equivalent of the UK/France pact of 'Entente Cordiale'.


Because they made a deal with the devil.

Are serious?!


Unseemly. Any tiny amount I may have cared before has now evaporated. Well done Lotuses, whoever you all are.


Tony and Mike should call Giancarlo Minardi for a license. Bring back Minardi!


Eddie Jordan might be rubbing his hands together soon!


I don't care


If the Chapmans really wanted to make sure the Team Lotus name didnt race in F1 any more then they should have bought the name from David Hunt themselves - then they would have the right to control it. As it is, they and Proton refused to buy it (I recall reading that David Hunt had tried to get them to do so many times) so they made their own beds.


Sense at last.


I agree with this point of view entirely.


What happens if (when) the money runs out at Group Lotus......?

The end of Lotus as we know it - and I speak as an ex 2 x owner (Excel, Elise). I just can't see the numbers stacking up in any way. Hopefully some well-funded manufacturer will come in to rescue them e.g. Tata or BMW.

Good luck to the Chapman Family if they make some quick £££ before the failure - I'm sure Colin would have been proud of that - see (alledged) Delorean funding etc....

Sorry for Lotus Racing - to me they've done more for the "Lotus Brand" than anything Group Lotus has done since the mid-90s when the original Elise came out. Since then any progress has been based purely on increasingly irrelevant versions of the same car. The Evora is great in isolation but there's so much talented competition now that I wonder what the actual sales are like..?

I stil can't see why Bahar and Co couldn't do a deal with Lotus Racing. I guess we'll never know the truth but right now I have zero confidence in any of Group Lotus' plans.



That is a very good question and one that many people in F1 are asking. The development cost for the road car range is £800 million, the sponsorship of Renault is £20 million, the major stake in the team must be significantly more than that.


I'm more disappointed in the Chapman family than anything else here. Last year they showed so much support and yet now they take this stance? Fernandes stated many times during the season that they were Lotus Racing and not Team because that was the past and that was how it should be. He bought the rights and changed to Team Lotus only after Group started to show signs of reneging on the deal, he actually wanted to remain as Lotus Racing. The about face just drags down the image even more as even taking account of the view that they were towing the party line last year as they were just supporting Group Lotus - they still lied through their teeth telling all how much they supported Tony and Mike etc.

I think people saying the team were not good enough last year forget a couple of things:

-shortest time of all teams to design and build a car, which then had adequate performance for development to start early on next years car - bearing in mind the drivers played a part here.

-no unlimited testing like there used to be - this is significant! Toyota tested for couple years solid before their first season and didn't exactly set the world alight. All three new teams should only be judged in a couple years time once they have data to build a future season on, especially considering the constantly changing goalposts with all the rule revisions. Assuming Hispania last a few seasons.

I'm coming around to the idea of Tony and Mike changing the name of the team simply to distance themselves with the Bahar way of working. I'm really seeing the name going downhill with this whole charade. If they did, I'd rather see a new name, not another resurrection as some suggest, nor a brand name like Air Asia, to much a marketer's wet dream. The fans aren't going to jump ship, it was the personnel and attitude that made the team so popular last year, not the Lotus tag. go with something cool or funny, wonder if they could call themselves 'Bahar Racing'....

Questions i'd like answered over the Christmas break would be:

-What do the other teams think about it all?

-How interlinked are Classic Team Lotus and Group Lotus?

- None of the bottom teams are using KERS, at least at the start of the season, are any of the established teams doing without?

-Will Lada be sponsoring Renault again next season? Would be fun to see a car branded with three different car company names.

Sorry to go on so long, Merry Christmas everyone!


We already have a car branded with 3 different car company names in F1!! The Ferrari F1 car currently carries 'Ferrari', 'FIAT' and 'Tata' branding.


Aaw sorry, totally missed that. Strange days indeed when companies sponsor each other.


James, I confess I'm missing something in all this;

I can see the original attraction of the Lotus brand. But surely the costs, risk and hassle of this fight are all way beyond the potential gain now? None of these guys are amateurs in business so they know life isn't about fair or right, especially in F1.

So why is Fernandes hanging on so hard?


A personal 'thing' with Bahar?

A 'Bernie streak' believing all publicity is good?

I don't get why he doesn't just focus on building his own brand now?

P.S. Another great year's journalism. Best in the field bar none. I've commented less as the site is more popular, but I'm still an avid reader and admirer of your work. Wishing you and your family a happy and well deserved break and I look forward to your work in 2011.


Thanks. It's ironic that Lotus lies dormant for 15 years as a brand in F1 and now there are two parties wanting to use it, including Lotus cars themselves who many thought they'd never see back in F1,


Yes, I see the irony of the name being dormant for 15 years and then everyone thinks it is the pretty girl in the bar....

Steve ....


Yes and that point generated the funniest line to come out of the whole schmear: Gascoyne's tweet - and I paraphrase loosely - that Lotus were like busses. You wait forever then suddenly two come along!


I think it's time to change the name too. If D.Bahar wants Lotus and have Chapman's support, he can have it.

I suggest Fernandes and Gascoyne change their team name.

But if D.Bahar still gives pressure to Fernandes and his team AFTER they have changed the team name, there must be something personal.

For now, just change the team name and let them (Group Lotus and Chapmans) happy.


Fernandes lost my support when he tried celebrating 500 gps earlier this year. At least Lotus/Renault aren't trying to pretend to be the same as classic Lotus. Fernandes should call it quits now and go about building his own brand.


Clive Chapman attended the 2010 GP in Valencia as a VIP guest of Lotus Racing. For all we know, celebrating the race as the 500th Grand Prix for Lotus might have been Clive's idea in the first place and, in any case, Clive clearly supported the idea. So it is very disappointing to see that Clive has now changed his mind and turned his back on Tony Fernandes's team.

And if the Renault F1 team, sponsored by Lotus Cars, is not pretending to be Team Lotus, then why are they painting their car with the iconic Team Lotus colours?


They are not the iconic Team Lotus colours, they are JPS colours, but I agree that Renault shouldn't be using them. They are really only associated with cigarette branding, I would have thought that Bernie would say something about it.

I have the feeling that when the 'snake oil' money runs out,as it surely will, the whole Team Lotus thing will die a death. Fernandes will already have done a couple of seasons under his own branding & I wish him success.


Agreed 100%


I guess the ultimate umpire would be the British court. Nostalgia , I guess, would not carry much weight and the legal aspects would take precedence.

From a layman's POV, it seems that Tony has an upper hand as he signed on the dotted line with a separate legal entity which is, from the news so far, the rightful owner of the "Team Lotus" name

But then, I'm no lawyer and it's up to these legal specialists to argue their respective cases.

Let's await the outcome of the courts. Hopefully everyone gets to be on the grid in 2011 and continue their battle on the tracks.


This is disappointing on several levels. Tony Fernandes deserves better than what the Malaysian politics has handed out to him. He comes across as a very passionate person for Formula 1.

When the Group Lotus vs Team Lotus controversy started I was hoping for an amicable settlement but this seems to be going off the edge of a cliff at a fast pace. Bizzare indeed but then again, this is Formula 1............


I can see a lot of people supported Tony because of what he did but I am not sure how many are because of "Lotus". Some may like him when he first bring back the name in F1 but I think many have seen beyond that at the end of the season.

Regardless of the name, just go racing !!


My God,this looks like a soap opera.


Fernandes true colours have come out in all of this and he is exposed for what he is, ruthless businessman who took what he could and treated the Lotus name with no respect at all by dragging all this kerfuffle into the courts.

Lotus have spoken.

The Chapman's have spoken.

Mansell has spoken.

They've all come own on the side of Group Lotus, why?

Because they see what Tony is trying to do and he certainly does not have the best interest of Lotus at heart.


What on earth has Nigel Mansell got to do with it?!

(OK, I know... but it's a tenuous plank to your argument)


Group Lotus spoke in support of themselves? No way! I thought they'd speak in support of Fernandes! How silly of me.

Your comment below combined with this one betrays an awfully large chip on your shoulder.


James, do you think this could be all really about Tony wanting to buy Group Lotus in a few years?

I suspect his motives are not entirely pure and it's why he is pursuing what one could only describe as an attack on Lotus at his stage.



Who would you trust with Lotus Cars, Bahar/Proton or Fernandes?


I think that was his plan, but Bahar has put a stop to that!


On the contrary,I think that Bahar will be the key that allows Tony to buy Group Lotus within 5 years after he (Bahar) has bankrupted it and Proton have not seen any return on their massive investment. My offer of the necessary quid to Tony still stands. (I say that Tony will buy Lotus for £1.00 when the NAV-Debt = £1.00)

To call Clive a turncoat now is perhaps inappropriate, turncap on the other hand.... is apt.


Thanks, yes I suspected that his Lotus Racing license turned out to be a bit of a Trojan horse, maybe Bahar and Group Lotus got wise to it, certainly this carry on by Tony over Team Lotus has to make one question the end game here.


I think this is going to be decided eventually by FOTA & Bernie. The court case will drag on, the loser will appeal, but somewhere along the way the 2011 season will start and the teams *must have "official" names at that time.


TF should have not invested one cent in Lotus after the licence was revoked, he has invested in a sinking ship/brand image, that was weak at best, to begin with.

He was quick to change from colours, to team name, to whatever, whenever he thought it would benifit him.

He should call his new team 'Team F1 Chameleon'

The Green\Yellow colours would be suitable!


I don't understand. Tony Fernandes DID buy the Team Lotus name from James Hunt, didn't he?(

So why should Fernandes be bullied by Bahar? Bahar seems to be like a manipulator to me: Now he is trying it the symbolic way.

The Chapman family is wrong on this one, sorry. It is a TOTAL disgrace to the Colin Chapman legacy. They (the Chapman family) should be ashamed.


no. it was david hunt


It was Roger Hunt - James' brother


Did he have a brother called Roger?

Roger Hunt was a footballer me thinks


Doesn't anyone else find it a bit strange that Clive Chapman begins his announcement by giving thanks to Proton for their significant investment that secures the workforce at the Hethel factory? Especially when just a few weeks ago Dany Bahar told BBC that Group Lotus plans to move the production of Lotus cars from UK to Asia, where they expect to find better market for their new range of expensive street cars.

Clive Chapman's own company Classic Team Lotus resides also in Hethel, and perhaps Proton has invested also in Clive's firm to secure its future? At least, Adam Cooper suggests in his blog that Group Lotus aims to build a "heritage centre" in their new factory to host the Classic Team Lotus collection of cars. So Clive's position may not be exactly impartial and unbiased when he says that "the association by Group Lotus with Team Lotus history is much appreciated and entirely appropriate".



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!


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.

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....


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.


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?


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.


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???


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


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.


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!


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

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.....bar 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.


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!


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.


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...


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


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

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



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.


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

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.


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.


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.


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?


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!

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