Renault will also become Lotus-Renault in 2011

2011 F1 season

2011 Lotus-Renault livery

2011 Lotus-Renault livery

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?s 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.

Lotus Cars have already announced a sponsorship deal with GP2 team ART, who will be known as Lotus ART in 2011. Fernandes’ airline Air Asia will have a GP2 team of its own called Team Air Asia.

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: ??We 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.??

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: ??I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing. We?re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I?m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back.??

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?s enthusiasts around the world.

The team scored a strong fifth-place finish in the 2010 constructors? 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.
Gerard Lopez

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?s best from next season.
Carlos Ghosn

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.
Tony Fernandes

Lotus naming rights row

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185 comments on Renault will also become Lotus-Renault in 2011

  1. Before this gets even more complicated than it needs to be:
    To me, putting a hyphen in the name suggests ‘chassis-engine’, i.e. “Lotus-Renault” is the car built by the Lotus team (this year’s entrant, Team Lotus), with a Renault engine. “Lotus Renault GP”, on the other hand, is this year’s Renault team with title sponsorship from the car company Group Lotus. Their car would be a “Lotus Renault-Renault”.

    Therefore, Keith, could I humbly suggest/request that the hyphenated name “Lotus-Renault” should not be used by F1Fanatic to refer to (Group) Lotus Renault GP?

    Thankfully, I’m in little doubt that Bernie will do something about the near-identical names and liveries if the situation still exists at the beginning of March…

  2. To those saying the 2010 Lotus Cosworth team had nothing to do with the ‘real’ lotus, it has as much to do with F1 as Proton-Renault will…I mean ‘Lotus-Renault’…my bad :P

    • but that’s the hub of it all isn’t it?

      Neither team really has anything to do with the team of old, regardless of whom owns the naming rights.

      So you’ve got a new team that bought the rights as a marketing tool (with the Chapman Family support so a plus point there) and a car manufacturer whose lineage comes from the same line as the original team, but has long since lost the connection, and are again using it for marketing to push car sales.

      The only sensible solution was for Group to work with Team, but I suspect they want to sell cars by winning, and it’s easier to flash some cash to get you name on a front running car, than make a very slow car quick.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th December 2010, 18:02

        Only thing is, what if they do not end up winning?
        And the cars they want to built are so far from the lotus cars lineage, this connection with the brand and the cars is lost?

  3. Sad news indeed. For those who went to the Lotus day at Snetterton last year you would understand Tony had done a great job of bringing back the Lotus name. I feel for him and the team in general. Dany Bahar and co seem to have jumped on the band wagon after Tony has showed them how much F1 can offer. Seems like they are only back in this for financial rather than sporting reasons.
    What have they said in terms of commitment to the sport? Are they still going to be here in 2020? I doubt it.
    If I was tony I would now change the team name and go off in a different direction. I think/hope they will get a lot of support from true fans.

    • Dan Silver said on 8th December 2010, 9:52

      Ah but surely Team Lotus need the TV revenue from the 2010 season, that must be a sizeable chunk of their budget. Changing their name entirely would stop them from getting all that hard earned cash.

      • bosyber said on 8th December 2010, 20:12

        So I guess they would only agree if, as a minimum, they get the difference from Group Lotus – and they then also need to miss the estimated 100 million from Renault F1 if they change the name, so the current price that is listed would end up costing them more then double that. Doesn’t sound like a great deal really.

  4. David said on 8th December 2010, 9:51

    JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Cyclops said on 8th December 2010, 9:54

    I don’t understand all of this “it’s a joke” or “it’s a disgrace” “I won’t support this fake Lotus”.

    First of all, Tony Fernandes’ team is at exactly the same level of NOT being the true Lotus as the Proton-Renault. Both are Malaysian entities, both just bought the Lotus name one way or another. And some people really got caught in Mr Fernandes’ PR trap of getting the support of the people for a “just” cause.

    And the nobody seems to remember that the “true” Lotus exists only for one year under it’s current name and for the whole 2010 was registered as 1 Malaysia F1 Team.

    So in the wake of two fake Lotuses I still prefer the faster.

  6. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th December 2010, 9:58

    Two teams.

    Both are to be known as “Lotus Renault”, or some variation thereof.

    Both are planning to run black-and-gold liveries.

    Both are locked in a bitter custody dispute over the name.

    Conclusion?

    This isn’t over. There’s no way the FIA are going to let this slide.

    Situation assessed.

    • Adrian said on 8th December 2010, 10:04

      The FiA getting involved would be far to sensible a situation.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th December 2010, 10:13

        I’m pretty sure there are provisions for name changes that allow the FIA to intervene:

        1) A team’s name must be an actual word. This is why Hispania are known as HRT – the FIA did not recognise the word “Hispania”.

        2) A team’s name must not reflect negatively on another team. I cannot create a team and call it “Ferrari Sucks”.

        3) Teams cannot have identical or similar-sounding names. This is for the purposes of identification on timing sheets and for spectators. Red Bull and Toro Rosso get away with it because while they both mean “Red Bull”, they sound nothing alike. But as we now have Lotus-Renault F1 and Team Lotus-Renault, they sound too similar (and they’re not owned by the same people). Especially since they plan on running similar liveries. It will be too difficult to differentiate them.

        As Group Lotus is now Renault’s title sponsor, I’d say Team Lotus will have to forgo their claim to the name if the FIA intervenes. Money changed hands, with Group Lotus buying a 25% stake in Renault. The FIA cannot simply undo that.

        • Jarred Walmsley said on 9th December 2010, 20:09

          So, if Team Lotus (Fernandes) changed their name to say Pasukan Lotus (Team Lotus in Malay) would this be acceptable or would it not be acceptable as Lotus is still in the name

    • Maksutov said on 8th December 2010, 12:24

      Errrr… that is exactly what i was thinking And im somewhat surprised that I had to slide all the way to page #2 of comments before anyone mentioned it.

      First and foremost, this “Lotus – Renault” fairy-tale name will have to be approved by the FIA, who will undoubtedly reject or reassess the approval. You can not just make up a name and call it whatever. There needs to be a unique identity, and as PM has outlined below, surely this will not be approved.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th December 2010, 13:09

        If I were Jean Todt, I’d reject both claims to the Team Lotus name, regardless of who the courts decided had won. The Group Lotus team would become known as something like Gravity Lotus, whilst Lotus Racing would become Fernandes Lotus. That’s the only way I’d allow them both to run with the Lotus name: with a unique identifier attached to it.

        There’s not much that can be done about similar liveries, but I seriously doubt Bernie Ecclestone is going to let that one pass by. Like I said, Red Bull and Toro Rosso can get away with it because they’re the same company. Group Lotus and Lotus Racing are at each others’ throats.

  7. Griggs said on 8th December 2010, 10:08

    There’s no Russian sponsorship on that car yet.

    • which means Heidfeld or Hulkenberg for car no. 10!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th December 2010, 10:41

        It means nothing. Nick Heidfeld has conceded that so long as Vladimir Putin is a fan of Formula 1, Vitaly Petrov’s seat is safe. After all, the dude was a KGB agent. You don’t want to mess with that.

        As for Nico Hulkenberg, he’s being strongly linked to Force India or a Mercedes test role. He was never seriously considered by Renault.

        Neither of them deserve it, anyway.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 8th December 2010, 10:15

      What’s your point? Vyborg Shipyards, Lada and Flagman Vodka were all sponsors that came with Petrov. Petrov has not yet been re-signed to the team, though he is expected to be. Renault have no reason for keeping his sponsors on the car just now.

  8. Adrian said on 8th December 2010, 10:08

    I would just love if Lotus Renault-Renault built a car to rival their 2009 offering, whilst Team Lotus-Renault pulled a BrawnGP and built a race-winning car after spending a large chunk of this year on it.

    Not likely to happen, but would be nice!!

    As an aside, people don’t have an issue with having 2 Red Bull teams, sure one has an Italian name, but they’re essentially the same name and their liveries are fairly similar. I suspect people would get used to having 2 Lotus teams on the grid, only Lotus Renault-Renault will still get called Renault…

    One other question this raises, as Renault are no longer a share-holder in the Renault F1 team, will they start to treat Red Bull Racing as their primary team?

    • Tango said on 8th December 2010, 11:06

      How do you say lotus (as the flower) in italian?

    • Don Mateo said on 8th December 2010, 13:08

      Good point about the red Bull liveries – although the team names are sufficiently different (in spelling and pronunciation at least), the cars are sometimes difficult to distinguish. Though it has been slightly easier this year with the cars themselves no longer being identical.

  9. Deurmat said on 8th December 2010, 10:08

    I don’t like either, the Malaysian Lotus was a joke to begin with…

  10. Hamish said on 8th December 2010, 10:48

    Worse still, will companies want their name on the Lotus at the front, or the Lotus at the back somewhere?

  11. PushTheButton said on 8th December 2010, 10:50

    4 cars that will look very alike on the grid this season, adding to the existing 4 of Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Guess the only way you can tell them apart is by the position they’re running in.

  12. Here’s what I want to see: Team Lotus ditches the plan to use gold/black and goes for Camel yellow instead. The ultimate switcheroo!

  13. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 8th December 2010, 10:57

    This is absurd. To have entered as Group Lotus is one thing, but to then plan to use the same livery as Fernandes’ Lotus just smacks of Bahar being bitter about the whole thing. I’m not too worried as this isn’t over – They both wont be Lotus-Renault and I’ll be amazed if they have the same livery.

    The sad thing for me is that if one does have to change it’s likely to be Fernandes’ Team Lotus. Ok so neither are the real Lotus, but Tony owns the rights to the Team Lotus name, has the blessing of the Chapman family and seems to embody the spirit and the history of the original Team Lotus. What more could he do? Bahar is just in it to make a quick buck which is very sad.

  14. Prof Kirk said on 8th December 2010, 11:03

    I can only assume the target is to get the name “Lotus” onto the podium as quickly as possible, so am I suspecting a similar tactic being deployed by Tony Fernandez as to the RedBull entrants (RedBull Racing and Torro Rosso).
    By having ownership in two teams despite their individual differences, this would assist with the appropriate investment and direction that needs to be taken in the years following 2011, using 2011 as a guide for that.
    It would guide the brand name “Lotus” into the most appropriate position, whilst using the other team as another ‘advertising billboard’ and a team to bring in new drivers, engineers and mechanics.

    • graigchq said on 8th December 2010, 12:02

      i think you are misreading this situation. If it were about having two co-owned teams then this wuld be a different conversation altogether.

      please re-read.. the dispute is over two SEPERATE entities both believing they have the right to the name and the livery…

  15. Danny Bahar is a disgrace to the historic Lotus name and it’s wonderful history. Team Lotus died in 1994 but Tony Fernandes has brought it back from death and re-created the spirit and soul of what was great about Team Lotus.

    For the details everyone should read up on the Team / Group split before making up their own mind but there is only one team with the soul of Champman and that’s the one I will be supporting.

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