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Team Lotus and Renault to await F1 commission decision on name changing
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Oct 2011   |  1:34 pm GMT  |  47 comments

It’s a story that has been running for 12 months and now two Formula 1 teams want to change their names, but the other teams are not going to make it easy for them.

Team Lotus wants to change the team name to Caterham F1 Team while the Renault team wants to change the “Lotus” in its name from a title sponsor to the team and chassis name, but both parties may have to wait until the F1 commission next meets in order to do so. The F1 commission normally meets in the first week of December, but Bernie Ecclestone has called for a meeting in the first week of November.

Both teams could change the team name when they want if they are prepared to forfeit their prize money for the previous season. As that is a significant amount of money – probably in excess of €40 million in Renault’s case, then the only way to achieve it is with a majority vote in the F1 commission. To quickly wave certain items through a fax vote sometimes is enough, but this weekend it has emerged that some rivals of the teams in question are understandably looking to have a proper debate about it.

Sauber in particular is keen to avoid making it too easy for teams to change names as they believe it damages the brands in F1. However Ferrari and HRT have an interest in this too and have pushed for a proper debate in the F1 commission, which is made up of teams, FIA, FOM, sponsors and circuit owners. There are 26 members of the commission and 18 votes would be needed for the name changes to take place.

It may be that a protocol is evolved as a result of this episode, for managing this kind of process in future.

Although it is understandable for rivals not to want to make life easy for each other in F1, at the same time if there are legitimate business reasons behind the name changes and the denial of the change would harm the business, it has not been F1’s practice in the past to block such moves, on the occasions when the matter has arisen, if there is sound business going on behind the move.

As Renault no longer has any stake in Renault GP team it makes sense for that team name to disappear. But F1 bosses will want to understand what Group Lotus’ long term intentions are before switching around Lotus names.

There was an issue over the renaming of Arrows in 1996, Tom Walkinshaw wanted to call it TWR F1. Ron Dennis at the time wanted to stop teams with famous names from being changed too easily. A few years later British American Tobacco bought Tyrrell and after some opposition from Walkinshaw, was allowed to rename the team BAR.

That team has since become known as Honda, Brawn and now Mercedes. At the time an FIA statement read, “The F1 Commission agreed that the Brawn team will be allowed to change its chassis name from Brawn to Mercedes. The team will continue to receive payments based on its historical performance. This has been granted on a one-off exceptional basis due to Mercedes-Benz’s long-term involvement and commitment to Formula One.”

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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

“However Ferrari and HRT have an interest in this too..”

HRT I understand, as they’re potentially going the same route, and will want to keep their prize money.

But Ferrari?

Why would they have such a vocal/active interest in this situation, anymore-so than any other top team?


@Fil a certain Dany Bahar worked at Ferrari for a couple of years and rubbed a few people up the wrong way…


Let them change their name when their heart was changed. It’s not a good reason to fix the name just to deceive people.



The Sauber, Mercedes, Lotus and Renault cases all highlight the fact that it’s not simple. Making a simple rule doesn’t make reality simple.

“Is that solution truly beyond the wit of the boffins who run the sport?”

Sometimes the boffins watching the sport lack wit too. Armchair FIA officials and armchair team principles abound. :shrug:


Whilst I appreciate that some teams want the matter clarified why do Sauber care whether Renault Lotus become Lotus Renault or Lotus Renault become Caterham ? I dont see how it will affect Sauber one jot. The proposed name change is a better solution than what we have re Lotus this year.

Thankfully, at least, I’m sure I remember the teams cannot continually change their livery and must run both cars identically which is something I wish Dario Franchitti would do and stop changing his livery almost every race weekend in Indycars!! Now THATS confusing!


Simple. Insert a clause stating that no team is allowed to change its name more than once a season. That way new owners / majority shareholders can be accomomdated, whilst situations like Lotus and Sauber, which were frankly absurd, can be avoided.

Is that solution truly beyond the wit of the boffins who run the sport?


Agree with the once a season suggestion, but as you allude to, it should only be for ownership/ majority shareholder reasons. NOT simply for sponsors


If teams weren’t allowed to change their names, Stewart would be leading the championship, Michael Schumacer would be racing for Tyrell, the name Jordan would still be a team and not just a commentater, Minardi would be a midfield team rather than the perennial back marker and Toleman would be running with Renault engines whilst owned by Group Lotus!


Oops! I hadn’t seen this post when I replied to someone else’s above 😉


Haha Brilliant.

I think with some of the examples mentioned though, there are genuine reasons for changing team names i.e. ownership change, as opposed to simply making a play for commercial advantage to appease sponsors.

If the Renaults want to be called “Lotus”, then Group Lotus should take a significant ownership stake in the team.

If the Lotus’s now want to be called Caterham F1, well we all know the reasons – legal and otherwise – for wanting to exit the Lotus name.

Just as long as it is made clear to them that once they change, Caterham it must stay


I’m glad others raised an eyebrow about Sauber. Let’s not forget it has benefitted twice from this type of arrangement not just changing back from BMW Sauber but changing to it in the first place.

Having said that, F1 does not help itself when the legal company name is different to the entrant, which may be different to the team name and is different again to the chassis. Take McLaren. Its chassis is a McLaren. Its team entrant name is Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, which is run by McLaren Racing and forms part of the McLaren Group!

In the case of Team Lotus I dare say 1 Malaysia will continue to feature somewhere!


A great name will only get you so far…having Lotus painted on the sidepods won’t make the car go any faster.


Absolutely! I feel sorry for former Lotus fans, that the name will be dragged down by a lowly back-of-grid team with little connection with the former Lotus.


Your obviously looking at the fake green team?


Check the back of the grid again. Lotus is padded by HRT and Virgin. They are doing quite well for a young team, and they have a great spirit.


I can see why teams who have a relatively long f1 history, would not want to make it easy for teams to change name too often. At the same time, I have seen many more teams given up than I can count or remember. So it is not like it is only suddenly happening. The thing about having to give up on the rightfully earned share of the pot, is so counterproductive. The teams more likely to want a name change, are most likely not the better performing ones. So probably, the less likely to bring many sponsors and the ones most likely to truly need the money that was earned. I would guess that, should they forfeit their share, it would than be reallocated to the remaining teams. Right? Greed is really to be found everywhere now times. Marc


Well said Marc.


“As Renault no longer has any stake in Renault GP team it makes sense for that team name to disappear.” Wait a minute, didnt Renault promise to stop crashing their own cars on purpose half way into a race… (ALA wacky races style). They would receive a light punishment (2year suspended sentence) if they pledged their long term commitment to the sport. These Frenchies bailed as soon as they realised people weren’t looking anymore, well i remember SpyGate and the R100m…


As engine suppliers, but not mote than that


I like seeing new teams and names.

People should be allowed to call the teams they own whatever they want.


Although I’m a big Caterham fan having done the academy and a further year of racing, I’m not sure that it is any more right that the name Caterhan be used for an F1 team or Lotus. Neither of the teams in question have the heritage of those brands so should not be allowed to use those names. Whilst it was nice to see the name Jaguar brought into F1 when Ford bought Stewart, there was never any real Jaguar heritage in that team which has now become Red Bull! However, there does need to be a more sensible approach to F1 team naming rules, having had the farce of “BMW Sauber – Ferrari” the other year when there was no BMW involvement in the team like Renault this year. Pity more team can’t keep is simple like Ferrari!


Richard I know your hooked up on the heritage thing, but.

If a sports car manufacturer wants to use an F1 company; i.e Enstone or 1Malaysia to peddle their wares, then fine. It’s an understandable outlet.

BUT, if a sports car manufacturer and the F1 team were to exchange technical resources, manpower and information that would mutually benefit both road cars and formula one cars,that makes it even better.

At least this way, a chassis called a Lotus, or a chassis called a Caterham would have some substance.


Are you seriously suggesting that there should be some kind of committee who decides what team names are ‘allowed’ in Formula 1 because of a subjective determination of the ‘heritage’ within a team? In that case, best get them working on names for every team on the grid other than Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Sauber. While I’m glad Stewart are the current world champions, Minardi finally won a race courtesy of Vettel, Manor Motorsport made it to the top eschelon of motor sport, Tyrrell have a secured the services of a seven time champion and a Senna is driving for Toleman once again, the fact is that you have to be realistic.

Throughout the history of the sport, teams have change identities with change of ownership. Had Group Lotus not made some strange decisions a year ago, this discussion would not be happening. Let’s retain a sense of perspective.


“Neither of the teams in question have the heritage of those brands so should not be allowed to use those names.”

So who should decide what a team can call itself? Shouldn’t the TEAM? :shrug:

“there does need to be a more sensible approach to F1 team naming rules”

A more sensible approach is to keep one’s nose in one’s own business and let the teams decide what to call themselves.

“Pity more team can’t keep is simple like Ferrari!”

Life isn’t always simple. Just ask Tony Fernandes.


Two Lotus teams and their fighting in courts etc has made a bit of joke of the whole situation and made F1 look like a circus…for the wrong reasons. Ferrari and co probably want to make sure that Lotus commits itself for years to come as F1 had enough pain with major manufacturers quitting.


Would it not be true that if a team had to forfeit its prize money, that prize money would be shared by the other teams. Is there not a conflict of interest there before any other considerations, valid or not are discussed and then voted on. If I was HRT and stood to gain 4-5million Euros on saying no, that might affect my judgement just slightly!!


Not really, Team Lotus and Renault can just wait until the next Concorde agreement is signed and sign it using their desired names.

Not voting for the name change only continues “name-gate”


and it seems like one-off exceptions could be made to both renault and lotus for their long-term involvement in f1.


sauber should consider that perhaps it does more “damage” to the f1 brand to have two teams with the same confusing name.


I think perhaps Dany Bahar ought to have thought about that in the first place. However, I think most people are intelligent enough to understand that the black cars are Renaults and the green cars are Lotuses. The ‘fans are confused’ argument is completely disingenuous.


no it’s not disingenuous. just because people on this website clearly know the difference doesn’t mean f1 viewership at large (maybe 75% casual watchers) know the difference. yet again, egos get in the way of the greater good/bigger picture.


Especially considering in other race series there’s multiple teams running the same cars but people just refer to the team name, not the car name. In Nascar, there’s only chevy’s, fords and camrys but no one’s confused.


except in nastycar the cars are known by their spponsor names (and numbers) so it would be the #6 lotus against the #21 lotus in f1!

Mohammed Al-Momen

I think teams should agree to the name changes for the sake of the fans, and to avoid confusion.


“Sauber in particular is keen to avoid making it too easy for teams to change names as they believe it damages the brands in F1.”

This is the same team that in the past was ridiculously named BMW Sauber-Ferrari?

What a nonsense.


Not by choice, my man.


They were never called bmw sauber ferrari. In 2010 they were “bmw sauber f1 team” but had a ferrari engine. It was part of bmw’s exit agreement to keep the name for a further season (I believe money was involved)



do you know/remember who was responsible for Sauber enduring the embarrassment of carrying their former partner’s name on their entry for an extra season?

As far as HRT is concerned, money seems as good an objective as any to hold out on approval, frankly, I’m surprised we haven’t heard similar noise from the Williams and FIs of the grid, given that they could benefit from a team relinquishing its share of the income.

And for Ferrari, I guess it may still be personal.

Personally, I hope for ever more intrigue and 11th-hour name jockeying in this case, it might yet turn out a closer call than the 2011 racing season ever was.


As I recall it was one of the conditions on the exit agreement


Following the withdrawal of BMW Sauber,(BMW didn’t sign the 2009 agreement) Lotus Racing was accepted to the 2010 grid.

The FIA only officially accepted the team to the 2010 grid under the name BMW Sauber on 3 December after the Toyota withdrawal.

So because they didt want to be a new team and lose all of Bernie’s money, they kept the name as it was.


I would think that having two teams with the Lotus name is more damaging to the F1 brand, than having one team changing it’s name.


isn’t it the same as having two Mercedes teams? – Both painted silver!


There’s 3 mercedes teams, if you want to nit-pick, 3 Ferrari teams, 2 Red Bull teams etc etc.


For TL, nothing loss. Without tv money, Tony and shareholder will put more money to the team.

For LRGP , big loss for them. $40million for them.


Vvipkho fernandes cannot afford to spend anymore of his own money. Pitpass showed that he spent 90 million of his own money getting the team going.


90 million is 3 shareholder money..


Team Louts will lose some serious cash also if they change there name. If they finish tenth in the WCC for 2011 like they did in 2010 that will get them a share of FOM commercial rights money. Estimates are tenth place is worth between 5 and 10 million.

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