Who are the real ‘Lotus’ in F1? (Poll)

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Two different teams are locked in a dispute over who has the right to use the Lotus name.

Both intend to use cars in classic black-and-gold John Player Special Lotus colours in 2011.

Who do you think are the real Lotus? Cast your vote and have your say below.

Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Valencia, 2010
Jarno Trulli, Lotus, Valencia, 2010

Lotus Racing

The team entered into F1 by Tony Fernandes in 2010. Fernandes bought the licence to use the name ‘Lotus’ from Proton, owners of Group Lotus, in 2009.

Lotus Racing has always considered itself a continuation of the classic Team Lotus and marked its 500th Grand Prix start at Valencia this year.

Fernandes acquired the rights to use the name Team Lotus from David Hunt in September. Hunt has owned them since the original team collapsed at the end of 1994.

2011 Lotus-Renault livery
2011 Lotus-Renault livery

Lotus Cars

The company which builds Lotus road cars was historically separate from the racing team.

They have now agreed a title sponsorship deal with Renault and have become an equity partner in their F1 team.

They plan to call the team Lotus Renault GP.

Over to you

Which team do you consider the rightful user of the name ‘Lotus’? Cast your vote and have you say below.

Who are the real 'Lotus' in F1?

  • Lotus Racing (65%)
  • Lotus Cars (17%)
  • Neither (18%)

Total Voters: 4,059

Loading ... Loading ...

Lotus naming rights row

Browse all articles on the Lotus naming rights row

175 comments on “Who are the real ‘Lotus’ in F1? (Poll)”

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 5
  1. Lotus are all about the chassis design and weight balance.
    Did anyone from Lotus have anything to do with the chassis design?

    I wish both teams all the luck in the world.
    But sticking a name on a car does not make it a Lotus IMHO.

    The one thing they did get right with the car design this year was legendary Lotus reliability! or lack thereof. I’ll give them that. ;)

    1. I agree, of course it’s neither.

      It’s like Eddie Jordan banging on about Jordan DNA in Force India when they showed a turn of speed.
      It’s like Jackie Stewart claiming Red Bull are really his team, as Jaguar jump on the bandwagon. It’s like Toleman or Minardi etc.
      Except this team wasn’t even born out of another one making it even less of a connection apart from judicious badge engineering. There’s no Lotus here…

      1. Yes, we didn’t hear any proud boasting from Eddie when his former team bombed under the names Midland and Spyker.

        1. Lotus are the only real Lotus. This has all been blown out of proportion and could ruin a season full of potential for Fernades’s team.

      2. I agree with psyrng. Lotus racing(tony’s team) is a team that started from scratch, and has employees that left various other teams and joined in. It has nothing in common with the classic lotus team, other than the licenses acquired from James Hunt.

        Lotus Renault have never really owned the racing team anyways, but since they are the owners of the road car brand they can cal it Lotus Renault or Lotus Whatever. Neither teams are the real thing.. and just because Tony got there first by buying licenses and celebrating their 500th GP doesn’t make him the original one either.

        Its a battle of the fakes.. I really do not care who wins. As long as there aren’t four identical looking cars on the grid next year with almost identical names, it should be ok.

        1. Saying that Tony’s team has nothing to do with the classic Lotus because he started from scratch, is ridiculous. Even if the real Team Lotus never closed, at 2010 it could be very possible that they wouldn’t have even one of the employees they had in 1994 and not even be in the same factory. So in the end the only real similarity with their founder will have been just the name like Fernade’s team.
          So what makes a team be what it is?
          It’s the spirit of course and the legal rights of the team.
          Unlike Lotus Renault-Renault Fernade’s has both.

          1. Oh knock it off. That’s such nonsense. Of course when a team stays in existence and it evolves, that’s something completely different from a malaysian team slapping a Lotus badge on their cars. Don’t insult our intelligence by claiming that it’s sort of similar.

        2. You may have just solved it Todfod! Maybe their should be 4 JPS black and gold Lotus-Renaults on the grid next year. The confusion will incur the wrath of everyone and inevitably cause one of the teams to back down. Though Fernandes isn’t truly the old Team Lotus resurrected, he sure has more claim to it that that bully Danny Bahar, who only seems keen to cash in on Renault’s good form and turn Lotus into some kind of Aston Martin, Ferrari wannabe. That is not what Lotus is.

          I hope all the proud Lotus owners from around the world step up to save this historic company from destroying itself. Kick Bahar to the kerb, kick the Malaysians to the kerb, keep building the light weight sports cars and actually tie in with the great team they already have racing in F1, the one run by Tony Fernandes.

          1. This has triggered quite an interesting debate.

            Just what is it that makes us believe in a team when they carry a name.

            McLaren is certainly an evolution of Bruce McLaren’s efforts (but an outsider may be hard pressed to pin point anything apart from the name).

            As it stands there’s only Ferrari, Sauber & Williams that have a clear and definite traceable lineage that stands from the name alone.

    2. Bartosz Grabski
      8th December 2010, 14:22

      Of course neither.

      And I don’t see any problem with the current situation as many here below. With regards to Lotus history I can’t see Tony Fernandes team as any kind of heir of ‘the real, one and only, and so on’ Lotus just because he bought the name (and not a working team) sooner than someone else. It’s the same with Genii – they just bought the name from a company which ‘accidentally’ also has Lotus in its name.

      So for me it’s perfectly OK that there will be one Team Lotus Renault F1 (or Lotus Racing Renault F1) and Group Lotus Renault F1 (or Lotus Cars Renault F1) or whatever they decide to call themselves, as I think FIA will only decide to dispute the names not to be identical. And sponsors will be happy too, as one of the teams will probably be a good challenger next year.

      And they can have the same name and livery, too – after all it’s not that easy to distinguish between Red Bulls and Toro Rossos nowadays on TV, either (even their drivers have problems with finding their pits sometimes ;) And, continuing the parallel, ‘Red Bull’ and ‘Toro Rosso’ mean the same, anyway.

      And I don’t get all these ‘histo(e)rical’ arguments – there’s no history there, just a five-letter word.

      1. Bartosz Grabski
        8th December 2010, 14:27

        P.S. Remember Lotus Notes or Lotus 1-2-3? ;) Maybe we can buy the name and start another ‘historical’ F1 Team?

        1. Some of us unfortunately still suffer daily with the quirks & features of Lotus Notes. :D

          1. Heh, nothing wrong with Lotus Notes. Except for admins ;)

      2. Comment of the day.

        1. Haha! A Lotus 1-2-3 car would DEFINITELY crash all the time

          1. So, let IBM buy another team and rebrand it as Lotus (And preferably engine from Renault) after the Lotus Notes brand.

            So, the formula 1 grid will look like a pond of Lotus :D

  2. I vote Tony Fernandes, as I suspect the overwhelming majority of people will. I think he’s earned the respect of people up and down pit lane, and from the fans – so much so that if he had to change the name to something like “Fernandes Grand Prix Engineering” because of the name clash, his team would be able to survive. And you never know, they could become like Williams one day, another “name” brand.

    On the other hand, Lotus Cars are pretenders to the title. Dany Bahar has clearly seen the success and popularity of Lotus Racing and wants it for himself. Or rather, for his own brand. Such selfish motivations mean he’ll never be worthy of any claim to Colin Chapman’s legacy. Unlike Tony Fernandes, Bahar’s Group Lotus would not have the support needed to stand on their own two feet. Unfortuantely, since Fernandes can survive on his own, that would give Bahar claim to the Lotus name – which he doesn’t deserve.

    1. Totally Agree 100%

      1. Its Hammer time
        8th December 2010, 11:10

        I whole-heartedly agree with both of you and voted for Tony. However…

        if this situation persists, one of the Lotus brand teams are likely to score regular points next year, and with the best will in the world, it isn’t likely to be Tony’s team. How long will his meagre budget last when sponsors start leaving.

        Danny Bahar et al have engaged in predictory pricing, bought in to a team rather than actually have the back bone to build their own car, and will rack in the credit off the back of the enstone racing teams effort and expertise.

        Its a sad situation. If there were any justice in the world, the FIA will block the inclusion of the name Lotus when it is officially submitted.

        1. I dunno, Renault really threw a lot at this year, and even asked for an advance on their championship money. Their budget for 2011 is a lot smaller than 2010. There is some talk that they’ll probably slip behind Mercedes and back towards Williams and Force India.

          Lotus Racing on the other hand are only moving onwards and upwards. Mike Gascoyne seems pretty convinced the team will be able to chalk some points on the board next season.

          1. As ever it will come down to small percentages, on which team will perform the best espcially now that they will be running the same engines. I have the feeling that renault will have better aero and the best driver, but redbull might develop a trick KERS for its customers so who knows!

        2. I expect the FIA must take some action against two teams being called Lotus and using black and gold livery. But then again, when have the FIA been predictable lately?

          1. I expect them to sit back and do nothing.

    2. Totally agree!

      1. I too voted Fernandes. This is just a total scam to make money out of Fernandes’ hard work. Such a shame that Renault aren’t going to continue as they were. But seriously, how on Earth do Renault/Lotus cars think the FIA are going to allow them to enter with the same name and livery as an existing team?! Just imagine if someone came along and decided they would start a team called Ferrari, with a red and white livery and Santander sponsorship! There would be an outcry! And honestly, I don’t see how this is any less ridiculous. It is a real shame, but this has turned me off the team from Enstone. :(

        1. Agree with everyone here – Fernandes bought the Lotus name and used it. Lotus Cars want to steal it from him after they found out how F1 can be a good pubblicity.

        2. Jarred Walmsley
          8th December 2010, 19:00

          Definetely Team Lotus/Lotus Racing is the correct team, while neither team is the “original” persay Lotus Racing has certainly done the most to try and gain the respect of those involved in F1 and I believe they are the real Lotus in F1

    3. Also totally agree that the 2010 team have the ‘moral’ right to the name.
      The only shame is that as far as I can tell, in either scenario there will be no benefit to Lotus road cars from the F1 R&D which seems crazy.

  3. I’ve been a massive fan of Lotus road cars for a long time, but I’m starting to get pretty disillusioned with them since Bahar came in. First the change of philosophy away from lightweight fun (ok, I can understand that for financial reasons even if I don’t necessarily like it – and I bet the new cars with be spectacularly good anyway), but the main reason being the change in attitude from themselves being this little company of enthusiasts sticking it to the big bully companies to now being a bully company themselves.

    1. Have you seen the next Elise? It’s an abomination, not a Lotus.

      1. exactly. I said I don’t like their change of philosophy with the road cars, even if I can understand it from a financial point of view. I’ll put any money saying its still going to be an excellent car though, just more homogenous.

        The change of design philosophy is part of a what i see as a change of company spirit. Away from being a plucky group who do their own thing and compete with the big boys to being just like the big boys. They way they are trying to bully Fernandes into submission is further evidence of this.

  4. Tony Fernandes has bought Team Lotus from David Hunt and they are the real Lotus F1 team. Group Lotus – the car company – have never raced in F1.

    Colin Chapman specifically set up the two companies this way to protect them from each other – if one went bust the other was safe.

  5. I was very dubious about “Racing Team 1Malaysia F1 Fernandes Norfolk F1” to start.

    But they’ve been a worthy addition to the grid and next year should be interesting!

    Dany Bahar just appears to be a madman…

    1. That sums it up pretty much.

      Dany Bahar appears to have a plan that involved borrowing loads of money from the banks (underwritten by Proton) in order to completely change Lotus Cars.

      I can see that falling flat because unlike Ferrari or Mercedes, it’s a small niche manufacturer and pretty much unknown in places like the US.

      It also has a whiff of smoke an mirrors about it to me.

      The smart money is on it all collapsing in a few years time, with the Malaysian government looking to offload it to save the embarassment of losing more money. I wonder if a certain Tony Fernandes will be waiting in the wings to reunite the two companies and turn a state disaster into a private success like he did with AirAsia…

      1. It also has a whiff of smoke an mirrors about it to me.


  6. Seems to be a large element of ‘cashing in’ by Lotus Cars with this move.

    Fernandes got their first, is deeply passionate about doing justice for the brand and has built a great team. Unquestionably it goes to Lotus Racing.

  7. I bet the sponsors of both teams are pretty unhappy about this..

    1. No such thing as bad publicity ;)

  8. 1) Tony F has without doubt earnt the right and respect to race as Team Lotus. Group Lotus have as yet done nothing but posture.

    2) Team Lotus acquired the Lotus F1 brand from David Hunt, if anyone can draw a line back to the original Lotus F1 team its Team lotus. For Group Lotus to suggest they have any connection with the original F1 team is ridiculous and libellous.

    3) There are workers at the Team Lotus factory in Hingham that worked on the original Lotus F1 cars for the original F1 team. I doubt there is anyone in Group Lotus who can make this claim.

    Hopefully the UK courts will clear this up for us. I would hope a decent bloke like Kubica is embarrassed to be associated with this mess.

    1. Exaclty. Why on earth does Proton not use the option of going for Team Lotus to promote their brand at premium rates and with full consent of everyone involved?
      It would certainly win the fans hearts to do so.
      And Bahar would have more time to actually build and market those cars they want to bring to market soon.

      1. Exactly, it’s ridiculous because the whole thing doesn’t even help Proton. Even if they won in court and could be the only Lotus they will still be spending millions in F1 when they could have be spending absolutely nothing and gaining free advertisement by having Fernades running by himself.
        Seriously the stupidity of Bahar is beyond limits.
        For every other manufacturer such a thing will be a dream come true. Having an F1 advertisement without spending anything. And yet this idiots had a gift in their door and they kicked it away.

    2. Very, very well said.

      Fernandes did the hard yards by starting a team from scratch, That deserves our respect.

      I can’t feel the same way about a group who buys and sues their way into F1, rather then earning their place with hard work.

  9. Neither Malaysian Lotus? LOL JOKE

  10. Since Team Lotus was never part of Group Lotus, I vote Team Lotus as the rightful heir to the legendary team.

    But only since they bought the rights to the name from David Hunt. Before maybe it was in spirit, but certainly not legally, which now (imho) they are.

    This makes it a lot harder for my own f1 system to distinguish the various constructors (chassis names) from each other. Now we have the old Team Lotus, Lotus Racing, the new Team Lotus and Lotus Renault (if they change the chassis name as well).

    1. Group Lotus were NEVER a racing team.

      Team Lotus were. end of story.

  11. It’s clearly Lotus Cars. End of story.

    1. Based on what? A heritage they don’t have?

    2. Why? Lotus cars have never raced in F1.

    3. Colin Chapman separated the two companies for good reasons. One for building road cars and the other for racing in F1. Dany Bahar is ignoring this, and you are too. Come on, it’s not THAT difficult to grasp. Get any 10 year-old to explain it to you, he should have no problem getting his head round it.

      1. Chapman definitely separated the two companies — and arguably that was a good reason, given that Team Lotus eventually went bankrupt, but unfortunately it gives rise to the current mess once the two are not effectively controlled by a single entity (Chapman).

        Other car makers have come and go in F1 — Mercedes-Benz and Renault comes to mind — but the F1 team is the subsidiary of the road car company, and you’d never be able to buy the IPs for the F1 team even when the manufacturer is no longer racing!

        Perhaps Lotus Cars ought to have bought back the assets of Team Lotus and thus avoid the whole mess (David Hunt could have obtained a license from them had his attempt to resurrect the F1 team succeeded).

        Then again, at the time the F1 team folded, Lotus Cars was owned by the same holding company as Bugatti, which was also in dire financial straits, so perhaps they can’t spare the cash…

    4. and it will be the end for you too

    5. Are you serious?

      Lotus cars never had much to do with Team Lotus apart from the owner (Chapman) and shared interests for promotion of their brand.

      Now Lotus Racing/Team Lotus convinced a lot of fans, the Chapman family and David Hunt he is in it for the racing and is allowed to officially take on the Team Lotus entity.

      Lotus cars in comparison never even bothered to convince anyone of their racing spirit and are starting to turn their backs on fans of the Lotus cars with bigger, fatter and a lot more expensive cars without the agility their fans could brag about.

      1. I think someones trying to rattle our collective cages.

        This Dany Bahar just seems to be relieving himself on Tony Fernandes’ bonfire.

  12. I will be supporting Lotus Racing as the true Lotus team. I will support Robert Kubica but not his team.

  13. Thank you very much Keith for the “neither” option, because regardless of emotions artificially steered by Fernandes and co, this is the closest to the truth.

    1. you might be right Cyclops, but seeing you’re a Cyclops, I guess you can’t see both sides of the story, so the dead center neither is the safe answer.

      1. LMAO that’s a classic!

      2. As I see it, there’s only one side of the story – facts.

        I simply ignore the emotional side of this mess, I don’t care about the “feeling” people have about both teams. There are only facts and they say Lotus Team doesn’t exist since 1994. Today we only have labels, which both parties simply bought at some point.

        1. Yes, in this kind of things, emotions are aside. It’s about who has the rights to use the brand.

        2. Jarred Walmsley
          8th December 2010, 19:03

          However would you not agree that sometimes the emotions are the facts, such as the Chapman’s families emotion of giving their blessing to Fernandes?

  14. To me, starting up an F1 team from the ground up seems more Lotus-like than merely buying and renaming an already successful and established team. Fernandes and Gascoyne get my vote.

  15. As far as I’m concerned, Team Lotus (Tony Fernandes’ team) was given a solid endorsement by both the Chapman family, and by David Hunt (who had made it clear he’d only ever allow the team to be resurrected by someone who embodied the ethos of the brand), which means they have the right to consider themselves the proper continuation of the historic Lotus team.

    Team Lotus should absolutely not become a publicity machine for a faceless multinational investment group, simply bent on throwing their commercial weight around and bullying smaller teams into submission.

    This feels like a big mistake from Renault, who still have the whiff of the crashgate saga hanging around them like sour milk.

  16. How can the FIA allow this? They wouldn’t even allow Sauber to drop BMW from their name afer BMW’s withdrawal. What’s next? A bootleg Ferrari team?

    1. Teams are free to change their names, it’s just they cut ties with their own team history which has implications when it comes to the TV rights. Teams undergoing rebranding like this have to be considered new teams in commercial terms and so give up their rights to the money they may have been entitled to, which is why Sauber kept the BMW moniker.

      There’s some ambiguity though where the responsibilities of the FIA end and it becomes a matter for the commercial rights holder to look into (bernie ecclestone and co), since there is a responsibility for the teams not to bring the sport into disrepute in such a way as to harm the commercial viability. It’s all about money at the end of the day. And politics of course. Legal disputes are one thing, and interpretations of commercial rights laws are naturally at the heart of the dispute, however don’t expect that there won’t be some political wrangling between the CRH and the investment group behind Dany Bahar. Money is really the key motivator for this change, from the perspective of Renault and Bahar anyway.

      Tony Fernandes at least went through the process of establishing as many ties as possible with the Chapman family, with the intention of bringing the Lotus team back to F1. Money obviously drives all these decisions but you do feel there’s a certain sentimentality about the 2010 Lotus team and the way they’ve conducted themselves. For Renault, on the other hand, the rebranding has nothign at all to do with history, and everything to do with selling cars, which is not something the original Team Lotus were ever about – Colin Chapman was really only ever motivated by a desire for success at the top level of motorsport.

    2. The BMW Sauber case was different, in that Sauber there was the partner to the actual BMW name. Lotus is a sponsor, so the FIA probably can’t intervene. But that probably won’t stop Bernie from doing it on behalf of FOM.

      1. If Renault sticks with the Lotus-Renault name for 2001, they will loose the 50 or so million they get from tv right. that’s a lot of money by any team’s standard. not only that it will take them 3 years of top 10 finishes before they can return to earn a column 1 Tv right purse.

        what Genii capital is doing is not very smart financially, and its commercial/sporting intelligence has a long way to go to be proven. not to mention that Kubica might be free to leave now, since his contract was with a team called Renault…

        i still don’t get why Lotus/Proton didnt go to bed with fernandes’ outfit… it makes much more sense, and has a passion to it…

        1. Actually Renault won’t lose money. Lotus Cars enters the team as title sponsor officially, so it will be like Vodaphone McLaren-Mercedes or Petronas Mercedes GP.

          As far as Proton + Fernandes goes, I think it’s cold calculation. Fernandes’ Lotus is simply to weak racing-wise, so it was really a no-brainer to get involved in RF1, as they have the potential to be title contenders.

          1. But it also didn’t cost Group Lotus a lot to have Fernandes team racing – and this year he will likely have moved up the grid; Renault might have stayed where it is, moved up, or slipped due to apparent lack of investment – so it isn’t all that certain as a money maker (except to say that Kubica seemed to think it wasn’t slipping or he’d have left).

        2. i still don’t get why Lotus/Proton didnt go to bed with fernandes’ outfit… it makes much more sense, and has a passion to it…

          Danny Bahar’s ego being of considerable size is the reason. If he joined up with Fernandes, Fernandes will still be the charismatic leader who created the team.

  17. I say they both do, they are two different companies who just both happen to have the name Lotus. I think this opens the F1 door to Lotus Sanitary Products and Lotus Bakeries. Lets get all the Lotus companies into F1 and rename half the field.

    I cant wait to see what the commentators make of this :)

    1. YES, have Fernandez sign a sponsorship deal with Lotus (both of those companies have a nice Lotus flower emblem) and stick it up to Bahar.

      Still this is going to be a great mess and i would be interested to see what the other teams make of it.

      Just think of having FOTA meetings to agree on something when both of these teams are present! Not to mention the racing with 4 almost identical cars.

  18. This is a real disappointment and I believe it should be stopped. It is infact an embarrassment to F1 and Bernie needs to throw his weight behind this one. I respect the Lotus team and what Tony Fernandesand his team have done with the outfit. It’s a shame the that Lotus the brand is has become so political it’s willing to tarnish it’s reputation by embarrassing itself with such petty branding instead of supporting him. It’s also a big mistake for Renault, they showed great improvement this year after separating themselves from the “spygate” scandal. I was really looking forward to seeing what performance Robert Kubica can ring out of that yellow machine next year, now I will just be cringing every time I see car on track. Shame on you Bahar!!! You should be Wikileaks on hit-list

  19. Neither are the real Lotus, but Fernandes owns the rights to Team Lotus and has the endorsement of the Chapman family. What more could you ask for? They appear to be a good, solid outfit with a clear plan for the future and they’ll be around for a while.

    Bahar is all about selling a few more road cars using the Lotus name and riding on the back of Renault’s success. The people I feel sorry for in this are the Renault guys – It’s making them look bad when they really shouldn’t.

    1. Neither are the real Lotus, but Fernandes owns the rights to Team Lotus and has the endorsement of the Chapman family.

      Yes, I agree. If anyone embodies the “spirit” of the old Lotus team it’s Tony’s outfit. Though I sometimes get frustrated with their PR (“Of course having the black-and-gold livery will help us challenge for the world championship immediately, if not sooner”) they have on most accounts been a welcome addition to the grid in 2010.

      I also agree with what you say about Renault. They come out of this looking bad when all they’ve really done is do a deal with a loon like Bahar.

      1. Renault didn’t do the deal with Bahar, that was Genii. Genii bought out Renault and sold a stake to Group Lotus.

        1. Yep, fair point. So Renault are actually even less guilty of anything than I suggested. But they still look like the bad guys.

        2. Well, they sold their share to Genii, no doubt knowing of the plans – they said they wanted the team to be solid and present for a long time in F1 when they sold it before, so I think they had to approve of Genii’s plans with the team. So it seems that Bahar has got to them too, in their eagerness to sell.

          The Enstone team itself isn’t really to blame I guess, but Renault, well, I think it is a lack of due diligence to saveguard their own reputation.

    2. I completely agree with everything you’ve said Dan.

  20. I will not vote, since I sincerely think both teams should carry the Lotus banner. The more the merrier.

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 5

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.