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Lotus F1 conflict to be resolved imminently
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Sep 2011   |  10:19 am GMT  |  99 comments

There will shortly be only one Lotus in F1 and it will be the black and gold cars, not the green and yellow.

The word this weekend in Monza is that a deal has been struck between the Malaysian owned Team Lotus and Group Lotus, which is a sponsor of the Renault GP team, to end the naming conflict. Tony Fernandes is understood to be on the point of applying to the FIA and FOM to change the name of his team to Caterham F1 Team.

Although the details have yet to emerge, it’s likely that, to avoid confusion, the Fernandes team will retain the green and yellow colour scheme – although they will surrender the Lotus badge – while the Genii owned Renault GP team will remain with the black and gold colour scheme, with the Lotus badge. This will also apply to their respective GP2 teams, Caterham Team Air Asia and Lotus ART respectively.

The trigger for the resolution appears to have been the deal Fernades struck recently with the Malaysian government for a slice of Malaysian Airlines. Part of the deal requirement on the government side was that the Lotus conflict should end. Lotus is part of the state-owned Proton company.

Fernandes has clearly seen this coming and earlier this year acquired Caterham in order to have a brand under his control around which he could rally his racing efforts. He can also align the F1 engineering with the road cars and sell a “track to road” story in his marketing efforts, as Ferrari and McLaren do, albeit to the budget end of the sportscar market.

The agreement works for Group Lotus boss Dany Behar by removing an obstacle. He will finally be able to reunite Team Lotus with the main Lotus brand and the way will be clear for them to rename the F1 team Lotus, should they wish to do so. That was one of the aims he stated when Lotus partnered with Genii on the Renault team.

There will be the issue of renaming the chassis for both teams, which is tightly controlled under the Concorde Agreement, but that can happen as long as its unanimously agreed by all the teams.

Fernandes: Merging F1 team with Caterham

The end of the conflict makes sense for both sides and for the viewing public, which has been thoroughly confused by the last season.

As mentioned here last week, Fernandes’ team is also likely to move soon from its base in Norfolk. It is known that representatives of the team have visited the old TWR facility at Leafield in Oxford, which was recently the base for Super Aguri. They have also looked at sites at Silverstone and near Cambridge. They are recruiting staff, like many teams in F1 at the moment. Mercedes is looking to fill 140 new positions and Virgin is actively recruiting.

It remains to be seen how Fernandes will weave his latest acquisition, the Queens Park Rangers football club, into the mix with the racing teams. Both offer a global media platform to sponsors, albeit with quite different audiences.

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As a true Lotus fan, this depresses me. Group Lotus are merely “sponsoring” Renault. And as their fortunes fluctuate we could again lose the Lotus name and spirit from Formula One in the blink of an eye. “Team Lotus” was/is more authentic. If the Renault F1 “sponsored by Lotus” becomes “Team Lotus” using Renault Engines Cool. Lotus Renault, as it is now does not inspire a true Lotus enthusiast one little bit.


Ughh. Neither team is Team Lotus and neither team can be described as authentic. I’m a Lotus fan who supported Team Lotus in F1 until they closed. I will also support a revived Lotus team as long as they are a solid squad, with a good spirit and are not an embarrasment to the name. Both teams are good squads with good people.

However both squads squabbling has been an embarasment at times, so the sooner this is brought to a conclusion the better!

I hope LRGP is renamed Lotus Racing and NOT Team Lotus! I also look forward to seeing how Caterham’s F1 team progress. Its the only solution that makes sense…


James “I am for real” please read this piece by Joe Saward on the subject of Lotus…I am sure Colin Chapman is turning in his grave..

This sums up the whole mess completely..

Best regards

Jeremy Smith


James, you mention that lots of F1 teams are currently recruiting. Where do they advertise their jobs?


Try Autosport magazine. Or ring Mercedes or Virgin HR department


It’s a shame both teams got into this mess. Look at the IndyCar series. There’s only one Lotus team. The cars are green and are doing very well in the series. And the race cars are always shown alongside high-performance Lotus road cars in the paddock. Simple message. F1 should try it:


Amazing how some people resolutely believe that Group Lotus won the court battle. Although a judge doesn’t say “and the winner is…” it was clear that if Group Lotus went in making a claim and didn’t receive what they wanted then they lost.

I’m still stunned at Lotus making ‘upmarket’ and upscaled cars just as the likes of VW/Audi/Porsche, Toyota/Subaru and Alfa Romeo all identify the small sportscar market as the way to go.

Also, I have a feeling that it isn’t just the airline deal that swayed TF. I have a feeling that the ‘Caterham Elise’ that others have speculated on just might be another sweetener. TF may well be denied money by the name change as I don’t see Virgin and HRT agreeing with the name change without an incentive, so I expect that the Malaysian suits had to work pretty hard to please him. At least all this mess could be at an end.


Wow. Lot’s of confused people on this topic.

Does prove though that us Brits are passionate about Lotus. 🙂


I think this just leaves the door open for the return of “williamsrenault”


Go Group. The only and real Lotus. Finally we will get to see a great British brand back in the limelight.


If TL do move to Leafield (which seems to be the default location mentioned whenever a team is rumoured to be moving) I wonder if they’re planning to recruit staff from GL which is based just up the road.


You mean from Renault, which is just up the road. GL is in Norfolk


I’ve been a Team Lotus fan since watching Jim Clark race Lotus Cortinas in 1964. I was skeptical about the Fernandes/Gascoyne team at first, but they soon won me over. So, I will be very sad to see the Team Lotus name disappear again. I really don’t believe the name belongs in Enstone, even thought the drivers and technical people there seem very capable … but the rest ???? Whoa !

The move from Hingham? Well. I dropped by the car park one Sunday and it didn’t look like there was much space for expansion. A shame because quite a few people clearly value the Norfolk connection.

I’ll forgive Tony if, in exchange, he got the rights to build the Elise and the Evora when GL stop. Like a few others, I’d now love to see a Caterham badged Elise on the road.


What a joke this case is.

Now my question is:

if Renault wins a race next year under Lotus name,will that mean that a new victory will be added to the REAL Lotus team record?


This is where Lotus go bust and Fernandes buys it on the cheap. Could you imagine the look on Bahar-har-har-boom boom’s face if that happened?

David Hunt must be properly irked about this.


I don’t know David Hunt at all, but it could be that he got what he thought was a good price. Was there a bidding war that he missed out on? I imagine the Team Lotus fans are playing violins.


No, GL didn’t believe they needed what DH had to offer. Bahar had realised when I spoke to him about it a few months ago that this was a mistake


“This is where Lotus go bust and Fernandes buys it on the cheap.”

Dany Bahar and Tony Fernandes are not the only two businessman in Malaysia. Or the world, for that matter. I’ve heard Dave Richards is interested in buying up Renault if they start struggling financially. Prodrive already have Aston Martin; Lotus is the other big British sports car brand. I could see Richards buying it and running it alongside Aston Martin. And with Aston focusing on Le Mans, Richards could dedicate Lotus to Formula 1, kind of like Volkswagen, who will soon have Porsche in Le Mans, Audi in DTM and their own cars in the WRC.


Richards would have to buy Proton to secure Lotus, not Renault.


True – but if he bought Renault F1, he would have an existing relationship with people like Bahar, a relationship that could grease the wheels for a buy-out of Lotus. He’d certainly be better-placed than one Tony Fernandes.

And I disagree that he would have to buy Proton to get Lotus. If Dany Bahar’s plan is as insane and as doomed as everyone says, it may get to the point where Proton are forced to sell the Lotus marque. Although I don’t know too much about the structure of Proton-Lotus, so I don’t know if it’s actually possible for Proton to disengage itself from Lotus.


Disappointed that they will be moving from their Norfolk facilities, my understanding was that Fernandes was intending on building up a modern F1 facility with wind tunnel there. I guess he had only based it here in order to strengthen his claim to the Lotus name and now that is no longer needed neither is the Norfolk location.


In the beginning he was going to base it all in Malaysia at one point.


James, it’s about time this was sorted out..

Neither of the teams should be using the Lotus name in my book..


Neither of the teams should be using the Lotus name?

Are you for real? So the Colin Chapman company that continues to make Lotus road cars isn’t allowed to promote their own product in F1?



Good news! But is how long will Genii Capital team be called Renault ?? Will it become Team Lotus or become Lotus-Renault GP or Lotus F1 ??

Also is there any chance of LotusART being used for the F1 team as well?

James, what about the rumor linking to Prodrive taking over Renault ?


Not hearing that, particularly


And how did David Hunt feature in all this?


He sold the rights to Team Lotus to Fernandes. Group Lotus’ mistake was in not dealing with Hunt. They could have avoided all of this


“The viewing public, which has been thoroughly confused by the last season.”

Speak for yourself James.


It has never been a matter of passion of the sport, it has always been about business !


I hope for both teams sake the other 10 teams dont stand in their way of a name change, but i think given the prize money implications and Team Lotus aiming to classify for historic status, Marussia Virgin and HRT might want to stand in their way.



I’m more curious about the fact that teams are recruiting big numbers. Could you maybe do an article on the resource restriction agreement and its implications. I fear for the minnows if some teams are going big…


Yes I thought teams were meant to be shrinking is the budget cap idea dead?


I just hope group Lotus doesn’t use the name “Team Lotus”. That name should never be allowed anywhere close to that bunch of corporate schmucks. Boullier and Bahar have both admitted that F1 is nothing but advertising to them. Ferrari might get adverising out of F1 but they’re there because of their passion. I don’t see that in this team which should be named “Corporate Lotus”


Lots of PR, not much pace. Next year is becoming a bigger and bigger watershed for Lotus/Caterham: move forward or take a financial hit.


I don’t think this is necessarily the end of this particular story :

Sooner or later the whole saga may turn full circle : it’s quite likely that the over-ambitious plans for Lotus Cars and led by Dany Bahar, will fail.

Then Tony Fernandes might well pick up Lotus Cars from Proton and the Malaysian Government at a knock down price.

That would re-unite Lotus Cars and their estranged offspring, the ( Caterham ) 7 and will create another interesting situation for Fernandes, Team Lotus (soon to be Caterham) and the current Renault team (soon to be Team Lotus)!


“Sooner or later the whole saga may turn full circle : it’s quite likely that the over-ambitious plans for Lotus Cars and led by Dany Bahar, will fail.”

But Bahar being the sole Lotus team on the grid increases his chances of success. Maybe not by much, but maybe it’s all he needs. After all, the Lotus name is tied to ART in GP2 and GP3, and they’re very competitive there. Bahar is clearly trying to associate the Lotus Cars name with successful racing teams.


I agree with you as far as the racing program is concerned but what I actually meant was the likely failure of their hugely ambitious plan for turning the Lotus Road Car brand into another Ferrari. ( It’s Dany B’s plan and, remember, they recruited him from Ferrari )

The plan is to develop and launch something like one completely new road car a year over the next few years with prices up to £150-200,000.

Lotus has a fantastic name for innovative small, light cars like the Elise but they are a million miles away from emulating Ferrari.

Certainly in the UK the legacy of the Elan and Europa lives on : Here many of the buyers for cars in the Ferrari / McLaren price range remember that when they were in their 20s and 30s LOTUS stood for :

Loads Of Trouble Usually Serious.

They are spending huge quantities of cash on this plan and sooner or later the money may run out before sales take off.

Our friend Tony Fernandes will be there ready and waiting………..


I’ve heard this alot and I don’t think its neccesarily true.

If Lotus build new more expensive cars that look good and drive well and crucially get good reviews it won’t matter if a small proportion of the worlds population who are car enthusiasts and arm chair industry watchers think Lotus is more about small light sportscars and not supercars. Some of Mr Bahars publicity work isn’t to my taste but I think he has a better chance of selling his idea to the wider public than we give him credit really, and a Lotus chassis in F1 (thats connected to the car manufacturer) will be a considerable help too.


I looked at the Evora and really it’s an oversized Elise : certainly based on the Elise Chassis.

At around £50,000-55,000, the Evora is the most expensive Lotus but, although it’s only fitted with a Toyota V6 engine, perfomance is god and that makes it something of a bargain.

However it would be a huge step up again for Lotus to produce a competitor to a £200,000 Ferrari or McLaren – a market segment where a bespoke engine would be essential. Yet that’s the market place they are targeting.

Enormous investment will be required with no certainty of success. As I said, hugely ambitious but I wish them well.


Maybe you should check out the 2012 spec Lotus Evora, now that is one special car.


Wow, THAT WOULD be poetic justice if it happened! Tony deserves it!


I’m sure that’s what Fernandes is hoping. Time will tell.


That would be a real shame.

They, in my eyes, have done the name good this season, and it serves no purpose for them to all of a sudden give up.

In all fairness, which name would you rather?

(forget about the whole double-Lotus thing)


Bit disappointed with TF. I’ve always known he’d take a pragmatic business approach to resolve the situation. However, I’m disappointed that both he, and MG, made such a song and dance about heritage. I’d be very interested to hear from Mr Hunt now. Any chance of an interview James?


I think he has taken a pragmatic approach. He’s done a deal and moved on. Once Group Lotus wanted to get involved in F1, TF’s plan was always in trouble


Very true, but with the legal process going very badly wrong for GL,TF will have had the upper hand in the negotiations. Given his track record he will have made full use of that. We might see the names and colours resolved, but I’ll not be surpised when we hear of more consequences to this move as time goes by.

James – Any indications of how they resolved the teams’ slices of Bernies handouts, or is that not in dispute if there is unanimous agreement from the rezst of the teams?


Being discussed now, I believe

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