“And so it came to pass that in Milton Keynes in the shire of Buckingham, Stewart GP begat Jaguar, which begat Red Bull, which smote everyone into submission.
While Tyrrell begat BAR, which begat Honda which begat Brawn which begat Mercedes which chased furiously after the Red Bulls.”
Name changes in Formula 1 are as old as the hills; it’s a business and takeovers are an essential part of business life.
They aren’t always allowed, as Tom Walkinshaw found when he tried to turn Arrows into TWR, but generally where it’s in most people’s interests to see strong brands with staying power in F1 the powerbrokers don’t stand in the way.
Today in Geneva the F1 commission met and sources confirm that the three teams seeking to change names have been allowed to do so, without any loss of earned income under the Concorde Agreement rules.
Virgin’s ill starred two year adventure has come to an end. The brand has gradually reduced its presence as Marrussia’s presence has increased and the now the small volume Russian car company is the brand which billionaire scientist Andrei Cheglikov has decided to use for the team which he now controls. It’s a smart move to get it done now, while Team Lotus was looking for approvals to make its changes.
Meanwhile the Lotus vs Lotus battle has ended with Tony Fernandes also rebranding his team around a sports car brand. Caterham F1 Team, probably with Air Asia tacked on the front as title sponsor next year, will be the platform for an ambitious strategy of marketing low cost sports cars to Asia and linking in with Fernandes’ other sporting asset; Queens Park Rangers football club.
The Lotus Renault GP team meanwhile also has the right to change its chassis name away from Renault to Lotus, should it choose to do so. Group Lotus is a sponsor at present, but the agreement with Genii has clauses under which it could become an equity partner.
Renault sold its interest in the team to Gerard Lopez’ Genii concern at the end of 2009 and since then has moved to focus solely on engine supply.
The new five year deal signed with Red Bull makes it clear that RBR is Renault’s “works” team from now on, which makes them effectively a manufacturer backed team as far as engines go at least.
The net cost to Renault of taking this route and supplying other customer teams, is less than a third of what it was when it ran its own team. Like other manufacturers who pulled out in 2008/9, Renault found that owning an F1 team means you have to win or lose funding when economic times get tight.
Ironically now they are engine suppliers to Red Bull Racing they are winning everything, as they did when they were engine suppliers to Williams and Benetton in the mid 1990s.
Times change, names come and go, but some things remain the same..