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

Debates and polls

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

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Lotus naming rights row

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

  1. judo chop said on 8th December 2010, 10:42

    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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • Ronman (@ronman) said on 8th December 2010, 11:38

        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…

        • Cyclops said on 8th December 2010, 11:56

          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.

          • bosyber said on 9th December 2010, 8:11

            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).

        • DavidS (@davids) said on 9th December 2010, 0:07

          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.

  2. John Snow said on 8th December 2010, 10:56

    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 :)

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 8th December 2010, 11:56

      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.

  3. Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 8th December 2010, 11:03

    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

  4. Dan Thorn (@dan-thorn) said on 8th December 2010, 11:04

    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.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 8th December 2010, 11:07

      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.

      • Sasquatsch said on 8th December 2010, 11:39

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

        • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 8th December 2010, 11:59

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

        • bosyber said on 9th December 2010, 8:14

          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.

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

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

  6. Abuelo Paul said on 8th December 2010, 11:38

    As we have, for several years now, 2 Red Bull teams I don’t really see the problem from a spectator viewpoint. A for the technicalities and legalities, well thats down to expensive lawyers to drag out.
    But in reality, Lotus (UK) team which ran in 2010 have bought the name to race with, and manufacture a car in UK. The have the right to use Lotus as the car name, and sub that with Renault to satisfy the engine supplier. Team Lotus Renault.
    New pretenders, have bought shares in Genii racing who keep the Renault name to keep an existing entry to F1. So Renault is the car with a sub of Lotus to satisfy shareholders. Team Renault Lotus.
    Problem solved. thank you.

    • Abuelo Paul said on 8th December 2010, 11:41

      Footnote, for all the world who follow and watch, whatever the legal decision outcome maybe, we will all still call them Lotus and Renault.
      And thats the important bit.
      What we the paying public want to see.

  7. neither of them are real lotus, they don’t represent Team lotus in anyway… but atleast lotus cars have a reason to brand themselves as lotus… it would help them sell their cars etc etc… but Tony has no reason to brand himself as lotus, what is he selling to whom? team lotus was a part of the lotus cars if i recollect & the success of original team lotus must have helped lotus cars to attract more buyers etc etc… Tony’s position is totally insane, let’s get real he does not represent team lotus in any which way. Holding the ashes of past does not make him the true representative of team lotus. Period!!

    • Cyclops said on 8th December 2010, 11:58

      Completely agree with you mate.

    • Team Lotus were a sister company to the Lotus Cars operation, and the two weren’t actually commercially affiliated in any legal sense. The F1 team existed solely wiht the intention of winning at F1, not for selling cars. Team Lotus were a manufacturer of F1 chassis, not a team with a car company as a financial backer.

      In this respect, Fernandes is far closer to the original intentions of Team Lotus, being in it primarily for the racing, and not for any specific commercial interests. And they make their own cars, whereas Group Lotus are more or less just paying for advertising space on the Renault-built car with the intention of promoting their brand of cars.

    • Adrian said on 8th December 2010, 17:09

      team lotus was a part of the lotus cars if i recollect

      Then you recollect wrongly.

      Team Lotus was owned by Colin Chapman, Lotus Cars (aka Group Lotus) was owned by Colin Chapman. That does not make them the same company.

      • Jarred Walmsley said on 8th December 2010, 19:06

        Indeed, that is like saying Jaguar is actually Volvo, when they are two seperate entities owned by the same parent company.

  8. ajokay said on 8th December 2010, 12:07

    The people with the rights to use the name ‘Team Lotus’ are the real ‘Team Lotus’, and that would be Fernandes and Co.

    If Proton-owned Group Lotus were that sure and certain and confident that they had use of the ‘Team’ aspect of Lotus, then they would be renaming the Renault team as for 2011… “Team Lotus Renault”. But they aren’t, so they can’t.

    Having said that, as Proton do own ‘Group’, there is nothing stopping them calling the team “Group Lotus Renault” next year, and forging their own racing legacy.

    If anything, as Proton gave Fernandes the licence to use the ‘Lotus’ name in F1 in 2010, it would only have been the ‘Group Lotus’ name. So the 2011 Renault team could be seen as a continuation of the 2010 Group Lotus licenced team, because that’s what it is… a Group Lotus team; and the 2011 “Team Lotus” team could be seen as a brand new team, which last started a race in 1994.

    So next year, there is going to be “Group Lotus Renault”, the F1 team brought to you by the same people who make the Elise, and “Team Lotus Renault”, from the people who essentially, bought you 7 F1 World Constructors Championships.

    And this, in theory, is always the danger of splitting a car company into two, a road division and a racing division. If the two entities ever fell into seperate hands, you end up with the two teams wanting to be the same.

    Either way, its all a muddle of confsing mess.

  9. Graham said on 8th December 2010, 12:16

    A few points to make on this.

    1: Group Lotus never raced anything, Team Lotus did the racing.
    2: Several teams like RBR and Ferrari already have their name on more one car so no problems there.
    3: The financing which enables Group Lotus to buy the remaining stake in the Renault outfit shows desperation, and all this from a car company who are loosing money. Very strange.

    My vote would go to Lotus Racing, no contest. Group Lotus should have nothing to do with racing cars.

  10. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 8th December 2010, 13:05

    I can’t believe Tony Fernandes has won all this respect by buying the Lotus name.

    Neither of them are Lotus and this whole thing is just pathetic.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 8th December 2010, 13:14

      Lots of people were sceptical of the Lotus thing right from the start … but Fernandes has won their respect by appearing to embody so much of the spirit of Chapman’s team and gaining the blessing of his family. To say that all Fernandes has done is buy the Lotus name is simply unfair. It’s what he’s done with the name that has impressed so many people.

      They are the nearest thing to the “true” Lotus that we’re ever going to get, and certainly a whole lot nearer than Bahar and his crew.

  11. I voted Lotus Racing – the current team, as they didn’t jump on the bandwagon like the “new” team.

    However, the Lotus Renault GP team have a greater probability of scoring points next year [and winning?], so perhaps we should be backing them to bring glory back to the Lotus name – rather than being a back of the grid team.

    Nice colour scheme – welcome back Team Lotus [Loti]?

    • Adrian said on 8th December 2010, 17:13

      So you’d support Chelsea or Man Utd in football because they’re more likely to win?

      I support Team Lotus because I think they’re a team that deserves my support and I like what they’ve done with themselves.

      If I wanted to support a team just cos they win then I’d be switching my allegiance to Red Bull Racing…

  12. polishboy808 said on 8th December 2010, 13:22

    For those saying that Team Lotus is the real Lotus, your wrong. Just because they stayed “true” to the Lotus history, it had NO financial backing from Lotus or Proton. Lotus-Renault GP are the real Lotus because they are partially OWNED by Lotus/Proton. So Team Lotus has a name and no Financial backing, while Lotus-Renault GP have the name and the Financial backing. Lotus want their name at the front, not the back, and you will too when in 2011 you’ll vote Renault-Lotus GP the real Lotus.

    • Jarred Walmsley said on 8th December 2010, 19:15

      That would be true if the racing team was owned by the road car team, However due to complex legal reasons namely to keep one team afloat if the other collapsed they were completely seperate companies and at no point did Group Lotus own the rights to the Team Lotus name.

      However, is there anything against rebadging the engines, i.e. could the Group Lotus Renault simply go as Group Lotus Racing having rebadged the engine as a Lotus?

      Because then we would have

      Team Lotus Renault
      Group Lotus Racing

      • polishboy808 said on 8th December 2010, 22:04

        Right, thats why TEAM LOTUS is in NO WAY related to Lotus. Lotus-Renault GP is because it is partially owned BY Lotus!

        • Jarred Walmsley said on 8th December 2010, 22:17

          I think you missed my point which was that Team Lotus was founded by Colin Chapman who also founded Lotus Cars and Lotus Engineering the later two later merged into a single entity called Group Lotus HOWEVER Team Lotus i.e. the racing team was kept as a separate entity.

          Thus Lotus-Renault GP is the car company and Team Lotus is the racing team.

  13. I was up at Hingham a couple of days ago to meet the Fernandes crew (not the man himself) and not just are they real racers, they’re real *Norfolk* racers, which counts for a lot when it comes to the Lotus heritage.

    Of course, likely most of the Lotus Group workforce are too. But Bahar isn’t – he’s a global brand builder.

    In truth, they’re both legitimate successors – to the two different strands of Lotus. Bahar makes cars. Fernandes races them. Should be the end of story.

    And once the house of cards upon which Lotus Group’s finances are built collapses, and all the bank debt comes back to haunt them, it will be.

    But I’ll tell you what – if that court hearing results in the Hingham bunch no longer being able to use the Lotus name, it’s going to hurt them personally. No badge engineering going on there, they’re genuine in their intent to represent the name and the legacy.

  14. Girts said on 8th December 2010, 13:33

    I voted ‘Neither’. Tony Fernandes has done a great job this year and it’s probably unfair to take the Lotus name away from him now. What Lotus Cars are doing now is cynical and stupid. But Fernandes’s team has not much to do with Team Lotus as well. Team Lotus is history and no team should use that name in F1 today.

  15. 1Malaysia Lotus are the ‘real’ team to me, and I figure that if they hadn’t announced the Black/Gold contest last month ‘the other Lotus team’ wouldn’t have taken the concept (to be honest, some of the entries from the contest look nicer than the 2011 Renault now :D).

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