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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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Good, the situation was a bit ridiculous.

I wonder what colour scheme they each will have for 2012.


I wonder what name they will call themselves . . .


The same as now!!


No I don't think it will be the same; the article says that Lotus Team are going to give up the name to become Caterham Team and the Renault Group of people will be renamed Lotus.

It will be great


It says in the story!!


Sorry I should have been more specific.

Its a bit odd as to why would caterham f1 team run a lotus livery and why would lotus not run their corporate colours.

Caterham for red black and white in 2012 (is that their colours?)

Lotus Renault to take on their corporate branding green and yellow, and drop the tobacco colours?


No it doesn't, it only says what they'll have until the end of this season.


As a fellow write, albeit part-time, I've come to realize most people read the first paragraph, and the last one... Times have changed!

Mohammed Al-Momen

but couldn't they change the color schemes for next season?


They could, yes. But do they want to? Apparently not.


I wonder which of the two teams will be renamed in order for there to be just one Lotus team in F1?


I wonder Fernandez will buy Renault the engine manufacturer and rename it Lotus Engines.




Now, I wonder if there will be a Caterham Elise/Exige further down the line. I hope so!

Graham The Interloper

Exactly what I have been sayng in the pub for ages. The "old" Elise platform is of little value to "New Lotus", but would be of great interest to the Caterham brand.

After all, it was the Elise that killed the Caterham 21, and it was the "Elise era" Lotus that Fernadez wanted to buy.

Elise with a Duratec and 268 horse? Yum!


I can't imagine Lotus selling off the design rights of the elise to caterham as they did the seven. Lotus would alienate alot of their current clientele.

New life may soon be breathed into that 'old' platform with a V6 sitting in the back? We're have to wait and see?

A ten year platform it may be, but it's difficault to beat perfection.


My Elise has close to 200hp, and its great! A friend of mine had one with a little over 300, and it was insane, he was the reason I bought one! I love them!


I hope Fernandes gouged a pound of flesh in Exchange for relinquishing the Lotus name, looking at his historical track record, I'm sure he made them pay!

I am still very much divided regarding my feelings for the Renault/Lotus team. On the one hand, I really hated the way Behar tried to bully and smear Fernandes in the battle over the Lotus name, but on the other hand, I am also really hoping that Kubica comes back and does well, hence my internal conflict...


"I hope Fernandes gouged a pound of flesh in Exchange for relinquishing the Lotus name"

I don't think he would have. By buying into Malaysia Airlines, he has consolidated his position in the domestic market. He's got an established team, one that can place high enough in the WCC to earn a slice of the broadcast rights. He can do that as Team Caterham just as easily as he can do it as Team Lotus. In fact, the Team Lotus name is really just gravy in all of this - though personally, I think he has no claim to it.

I admit, I have no time for Tony Fernandes. I liked him to begin with, but he was very aggressive during the first phases of the court case. Some of his rhetoric in particular wouldn't have been out of place in the Cold War. Renault, on the other hand, were very professional - they let Group Lotus do their thing in the courtroom and concentrated on their racing while Tony Fernandes mouthed off to anyone who would listen.

I think the only reason why Fernandes even got the time of day from fans in the first place was because he was in the sport before Group Lotus was. A lot of people think Dany Bahar was trying to steal the Lotus name away from Fernandes, inventing reasons to break the initiail licencing contract in 2010. This is largely untrue - the courts agreed with Group Lotus. Fernandes was in the wrong. But because he was in the sport first and started attacking Group Lotus at every opportunity, the fans sided with him.


Lets not forget, it was Group Lotus who allowed 1Malasia to race under their Lotus license in the first place.


Thankyou @Prisoner Monkeys. That is exactly how i read it back then too. Whether it was LR8, t-shirts or whatever TF was definately getting above his station and moving the Lotus brand in a direction he had no right to do.


And it was Fernandes who did something to break the licencing contract (it was never revealed as to exactly what had been the catalyst, but I suspect it was by marketing "LR8", billed as the official energy drink of the team - it never went to the market, and the logos disappeared from the car in Singapore). Group Lotus felt Fernandes had misused the Lotus name, and no longer wanted to be associated with the team. Why should they continue to support someone who they felt was damaging their name?


I guess I must have been following a differenet case!!


Well, the courts didn't punish Group Lotus for breach of contract. Not that I remember. But the whole thing has been so convoluted that I have no idea what's going on.


Can we look forward to some new Caterham road cars appearing?


Sounds like it, with F1 designer working on them, I think


About time! I am pig-sick of saying I am pig-sick of the whole, sordid affair. As per the details, it was only ever about money.

Once again, and hopefully for the last time, Lotus, my derriere! Neither protagonist was, is or ever will be Lotus in the historical sense. So let this be an end to the matter, and please, don't go giving these mercenaries another column inch.


True, but I thunk we can all agree that Fernandes has undisputedly acquired the right to use the Caterham brand which ironically of course includes the iconic Lotus 7. So in many ways I see Tony as having won.


You have that right. However, although he would probably would have us believe otherwise, have us think that it was a smart move when he grabbed Caterham, I think TF was rather clutching at straws in so doing. I say that, as it's been a good long time since Colin Chapman sold off the rights to the 7 to Caterham, that company not being able to use the Lotus part of the name.

So unless TF makes a concerted effort to remind us of just how tenuous the link to Lotus is, only those old enough or else hardcore devotees will make the connection.

In my opinion, I consider any link either Group Lotus or [TF]Team Lotus try to make a connection to Team Lotus as was, a complete waste of time. It is at best tenuous in the extreme, and all efforts thus far have failed miserably, them lacking any and all credibility. Really, anyone trying it must think we are all idiots.


means TL will nt be TL for next year???


Be interesting to see how TF spins this one if true, all along he has been saying that the name, heritage, and beliefs of the original Team Lotus were important. Not a good day for those who have shown support


Fail to see how you arrive at that conclusion really. I support Tony's entrepreneurial drive, passion and innovative way of finding a solution to the problem. Reminds me of Chapman.


I predict that somewhere in the small print Fernandez will pull another ace that Behar and Group Lotus wasn't expecting.

I actually think this outcome is worse for the sport than continuing with two teams claiming to be Lotus. I don't buy into the "it was confusing for the fans" nonsense, F1 fans are not stupid, we can work out the difference between a green car and a black one and with a little explanation it's quite clear for the casual viewer, who probably doesn't care.

Fernandez and Malaysia1 have done a fantastic job at doing what Ford tried to do with the Jaguar brand when it came into F1 and severely failed; bringing a national icon back to the world stage and getting the public behind it. Go to a circuit and the amount of promotion Team Lotus puts on, is second only to Ferrari and its sponsors (with mega bucks) and the volume of green caps and shirts is far more than black shirts or caps. The success on the track hasn't come yet, but it almost doesn't matter! Seeing British Racing Green F1 cars and what's more, green Team Lotus cars, is the same as seeing red Ferraris, silver Mercedes ect. It's immediately identifiable and part of the sports heritage, weather or not the current team has ties to the original factory - does Group Lotus share much, if any, ties to the original Team Lotus?

I'd love to know how much TV coverage Team Lotus receives ahead of the other "new" teams; HRT and Virgin and then the other mid grid teams like Williams and Force India. Without having the stats, I'm still prepared to wager Team Lotus receive an abnormally higher amount of coverage for a none point scoring, back of the grid team than it perhaps should and the reason for that is because of what the name and colour scheme stand for.

I was very sceptical when Fernandez brought the Lotus name back to the sport, but he's done way more for it than Behar or Genii will. The Lotus-Renaults (Black) looks like a design monstrosity and I don’t think the goodwill fans have shown Team Lotus will transfer easily, if at all.


Back in the Eighties, we had two teams sponsored by Marloboro (McLaren and Alfa Romeo). In 1982, the liveries were very similar.

In the seventies (74, I think), we had a Marlboro McLaren and a Yardley McLaren team. More recently, we have had virtually identical Red Bull and Torro Rosso cars (with Renault and Ferrari engines, but similar livieries).

I don't think these things affect fans to any great extent.


They're not Lotus-Renaults - it's only the advertising on them that's Lotus....i.e. money.

As in Vodaphone McLaren, but we don't call them that - the Vodaphone bit is

They're Renaults at the moment. Hold your breath until 2012.


As rediculus as the situation was, and I'm glad thats coming to an end, I never understood why there was such confusion. One was always Renault and in the same way that I would never reffer to a McLaren as Vodafone or a Mercedes as a Petronos, I dont call the Renault a Lotus, regardless of how they want to market themselves.


I think the poster meant that we know what the colour scheme will be till the end of the current season, so no casual watcher suddenly drops in and thinks "what the heck, where have they gone?", but, will they then set off with a totally new "corporate" colour scheme for the new season.


So what happened in court? did they tall just walk out and leave it? Was it officially stopped or what. Last we heard Tony was getting an earfull from the Judge and Bahar was being told the judge did not believe him!


GL lost. They appealed and lost again. Now they've done a deal


Case is still going on. So how can you say GL lost again? By the way: GL hasn't lost the first time...


yes they did


Wrong, GL case against TL was they said Fernandes had no right to use the Team Lotus name in F1.

They lost.


Correct me if'm wrong, but from what I've understood you are correct about the first case, but I think what jonrob is referring to is the new case where GL filed an injunction against TL to stop any activities beyond the scope of F1, in perticular the use of the Team Lotus name and logo on Caterham cars (as they've already done on a special Team Lotus edition Caterham Seven). As far as I know the verdict on this case is still pending.


In fact I wasn't aware that there is a second trial, as you say it is for GL trying to stop TF from using the name Team Lotus outside F1.

As you say a verdict is still awaited. Now that this deal has been done, I imagine it may never be delivered.


I wonder if all those years ago when Colin Chapman did a deal with Graham Nearn, selling the design rights for the Lotus 7 to Caterham, he could have imagined that one day Caterham-badged cars would be battling in F1 against cars badged 'Lotus'?

I guess right at this minute they'll be both sitting on a cloud having a laugh about it.


To follow, it will also be hard for people to support a GL lead TL if the Team isn't Norfolk based


dissapointed that the wrong team will get to keep the lotus name.

i will never support renault or any driver who drives for them ever again 🙁


Good. Finally. But one thing wonders me. How will Mr. Fernandes explain all of this to the fans who were purely emotionally attached to the Team Lotus marque? He was the one toying with history, feelings and "spirit" of Team Lotus and now he's abandoning TL for purely pragmatic business reasons. Of course we know most of this emotional talk was pure PR to rally supporters, but still some feeling of being manipulated [mod] will emerge among the fans. Just like with his "loyal West Ham Fan" line turning into QPR owner.


I do not think it was fair for Tony but he is one of the good guys in F1 and and hope it comes out best for him....seems to be quiet the business brain.


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


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)


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.


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 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"



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 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.


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


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

Speak for yourself James.


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


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


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?



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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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


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


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

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


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.


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:


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


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


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...

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