There could be two teams named Lotus-Renault on the F1 grid in 2011 as Renault announce a sponsorship deal with Lotus Cars.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Renault have agreed a $100m title sponsorship deal with Lotus Cars which will see the team renamed Lotus Renault GP from next year.
The deal will see Renault sell the remainder of its shares to Genii Capital, which bought 75% of them last year.
They will clash head-on with Lotus Racing, who brought the famous name back to F1 at the beginning of this year and recently signed a deal to use Renault engines in 2011.
Making matters even more confusing, both teams are planning to use black-and-gold colour schemes next year, evoking memories of the company’s iconic John Player Special Livery.
Lotus Racing recently concluded a competition for fans to design their black-and-gold 2011 livery. In a clear reference to that, here’s how Lotus-Renault described their livery design for next year:
This livery, which has been on the drawing board for over two months in order to reinterpret its iconic graphic signature to suit modern media requirements, is sure to strike a powerful chord with the sport?óÔé¼Ôäós enthusiasts around the world.
Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes had previously announced the team would revive the historic Team Lotus name in 2011. But he faces opposition from Lotus Cars and the dispute will go before the High Court in the new year.
Full statement from Renault:
Genii Capital and Group Lotus plc today announced the creation of Lotus Renault GP, the successor to the Renault F1 Team that will contest the 2011 FIA Formula One World Championship. This exciting announcement is made in the context of a strategic alliance between the two companies that will provide Group Lotus with significant technological and commercial opportunities for its range of road cars.
Following the return of the Lotus name to Formula 1 in 2010, under licence from Group Lotus, this historic announcement marks the complete return of the Lotus manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of its parent company Proton. Group Lotus plc will become a major equity partner of Genii Capital in Lotus Renault GP, and the two parties have concluded a title sponsorship agreement that will run until the end of the 2017 season. With the continued support of Renault as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise, Lotus Renault GP enjoys a strong, stable platform for future success.
Gerard Lopez, Chairman of Renault F1 Team, commented: ?óÔé¼?ôWe are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011. It is extremely exciting to begin a new era for the team in partnership with Group Lotus, and we will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons. It is a tribute to the excellent work this year by the team in Enstone that we have been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future.?óÔé¼?Ø
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: ?óÔé¼?ôI can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing. We?óÔé¼Ôäóre well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I?óÔé¼Ôäóm delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back.?óÔé¼?Ø
The new partnership has been enabled by Renault selling its remaining shares in the team to Genii Capital. Group Lotus plc will subsequently become a major equity partner in Lotus Renault GP, which it will co-own with Genii Capital.
Renault will continue its strong support of the team with which it won the 2005 and 2006 world championships, as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise. Reflecting this technological support, Lotus Renault GP will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name and Renault will enjoy pre-eminent brand exposure on the livery.
For 2011, the Lotus Renault GP cars will race in a new interpretation of the iconic black and gold colours that were last used when Lotus and Renault joined forces in the 1980s. This livery, which has been on the drawing board for over two months in order to reinterpret its iconic graphic signature to suit modern media requirements, is sure to strike a powerful chord with the sport?óÔé¼Ôäós enthusiasts around the world.
The team scored a strong fifth-place finish in the 2010 constructors?óÔé¼Ôäó championship, which included three podium finishes for Robert Kubica. Next season, Lotus Renault GP is aiming to take another step forward which will see it competing regularly with the most prestigious names in Formula 1.
Gerard Lopez, founding partner of Genii Capital, endorsed the deal, saying:
For Group Lotus, access to Formula 1 opens up new marketing opportunities and a major platform for business exchanges and development. In this regard, Genii Capital possesses shareholdings in, and direct access to, cutting edge companies in the automotive industry. Our tie-up with Group Lotus and Proton, which will enable its future road car ranges to take advantage of significant new technologies, is a natural step.
Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn added:
This multi-partner alliance will bring a new dynamic to the team and enable it to compete with the sport?óÔé¼Ôäós best from next season.
Update: Fernandes believes the news strengthens his hand in his efforts to win the rights to use the Lotus name. He said on Twitter:
Dany Bahar has done us a favour. Never felt better about our future and Team Lotus. Looks like [they’re] trying to hijack our black and gold idea.
Lotus naming rights row
- Lotus to keep name until 2017 despite losing title sponsorship
- Lotus confirms 2012 name change to Caterham
- Renault, Lotus and Virgin to change names in 2012
- Bahar ‘determined’ to win right to call team ‘Lotus’
- Court rules Lotus have right to use name “Team Lotus”
- Fernandes: Group Lotus did their best to destroy us
- Lotus vs Lotus: Time to stop the nonsense
- Team Lotus revert to green and yellow livery for 2011
- Renault reveal R30 with new 2011 Lotus livery
- Who are the real ‘Lotus’ in F1? (Poll)
Image ?é?® Renault/LAT