Mario Andretti, Lotus, Jarama, 1978

Lotus vs Lotus: Time to stop the nonsense

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mario Andretti, Lotus, Jarama, 1978
Mario Andretti, Lotus, Jarama, 1978

The high court’s decision on Monday to hear the case over the Lotus naming rights row in March means the matter could be settled earlier than originally expected.

But is it too much to hope for an outbreak of sanity before the season begins?

It would be in the best interests of the sport not to go into the first race of 2011 with two teams each calling themselves ‘Lotus’.

Team Lotus and Lotus Renault GP, as they prefer to be called, would each have us believe that they are the ‘real’ Lotus.

Some may find it acceptable to have two Lotus teams in Formula 1. After all, there are two teams called Red Bull (Toro Rosso is Italian for Red Bull).

But the Lotus situation is not a case of one company owning two teams. This is two different companies trying to claim the legacy of an earlier team.

There is enormous potential for confusion and that’s why it’s a problem for Formula 1. The Premier League does not have two Manchester Uniteds. The National Football League does not have two teams from Dallas calling themselves the Cowboys.

The confusion has been needlessly added to and aggravated by some publications taking sides.

Last month Autosport announced Group Lotus’s deal with Renault with a front cover splash unambiguously headed “The real Lotus is back”. This was followed a month later by a 20-page spread on Group Lotus’s motor racing plans which referred to Team Lotus as “1 Malaysia Racing Team”.

The current FIA entry list points the way to a clear means of distinguishing between the two using their constructor names.

It refers to Renault F1 Team (now Lotus Renault GP) as ‘Renault’ and Team Lotus as ‘Lotus’. This is the convention I’m sticking to for the time being.

But the silly row over name-calling, the tit-for-tat press releases and gloating Tweets, all reflect poorly on Formula 1.

With launch season almost upon us it’s time for Jean Todt to consider whether it’s in the best interests of the sport to let it continue.

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164 comments on “Lotus vs Lotus: Time to stop the nonsense”

  1. I believe that at this point, the FIA should ban new outfits from using historic teams’ names (unless its the same original owner)

    I am a romantic, and would like to see back historic names; Lotus, Ligier, March, Tyrrell, Arrows, Minardi, etc but its just confusing the fan. If I name my child Ayrton Senna it will not make him a future champ.

    1. I don’t know about that. Naming your child Fernando Alonso might make him 0.6s faster per lap :D

      1. He’ll be faster than my child if I were to name him Felipe… ;-)

        1. Only when both are dressed in red :-)

      2. and a Felipe giving way?

    2. If you own the brand you should have the right do whatever you want with the brand. If you want to buy an F1 team and bring it back to racing F1, that is your prerogative.

  2. To me, as someone who had and treasured a 1973 corgi lotus in jps black and gold sat on a trailer pulled by a lotus elite, who smoked a jps cigarette becasue they were a Lotus’ sponsor, who’s first favourite driver was Mario Andretti because he drover for Lotus and was greatly saddened by their decline… I couldnt care less if they ran 3 Lotus teams, the soul of the team died years ago and whilst its nice to see the name, it has no credibility, it doesnt mean anything. Whether a bunch of Koreans or Zargs call it Lotus or hocus pocus is emotionally a non issue.

    1. Amen!

      It was a nice touch for Gascoyne/Fernandez to bring the Lotus name back into F1, but now this is starting to get really tedious.

      Fernandez has a nice team of people perfectly capable of builing their own legacy. A shame the current Group Lotus did not grab the opportunity to become part of that.
      And the Enstone team (ex-Toleman, ex-Benetton, ex-Renault, sort of) have enough of their own history to show off, instead of going for someone else’s.

  3. In my view, one team has a majority stake and title sponsorship from Lotus, and one owns a name.

    Now in my view, similar to Prisoner Monkeys, is that the title sponsorship and majority stake of a manufacturer is better for F1 in the long run compared to a new team that has bought the naming rights of an old team.

    I think they should be known as Lotus Renault F1 and Fernandes GP OR AirAsia Lotus GP, if they really want to keep the Lotus in there, but it would be an unwise move.

    1. Well, so far Group Lotus has no stake at all in the team it is sponsoring. The team Lotus Renault GP is 100% owned by Genii Capital.

      1. How would not baking down be an unwise move. Basics of business. Know what your doing, and stick to your guns.

  4. There is no point taking sides. Both parties are businesses trying to make a profit and protect their investments.
    Fernandes entered (for whatever reason) F1 and licensed the Lotus names for 5 years. A clever ploy as a new team could tap into an established fan-base, have a nice name to attract sponsors and create strong tied with the Malaysian government and its money. This could at -the very least- increase its chances of survival in the cutthroat environment of F1. Even if everything didn’t go as planned, 5 years down the road the team could be strong enough to shed the Lotus name without consequences (they can change their name every 5 years, can’t they?) and continue on its own.
    Now, they lost the name after only one year and that puts them in real trouble. No decent brand and loss of concorde agreement’s cash could spell death for such a small and unproven team.
    On the other hand, Group Lotus want advertising and fast. Their ambitious plans cannot work in such a small time frame unless they find lots of money themselves.
    Think about it, all they’ve been doing the past year is creating a lot of noise (5 new cars, motorsport etc) and the reason is probably to show that they are strong, ambitious, successful and wealthy enough so that investors (banks?) wage their money on them. In fact they secured HUGE loans lately (half a billion to such a small-time manufacturer is a lot)…

    1. Next time, I’ll check my posts before submitting them. That way, I’ll probably avoid making so many elementary mistakes…

  5. Group Lotus are nothing more than a SPONSOR, there should be zero confusion. As I posted on JA’s blog, putting stickers on other peoples cars does not give you the right to use the sport as a soapbox.

    500+ million fans watch F1 with a passion for those directly involved in the building and racing formula one cars, not corporate marketing departments that write cheques with the sole aim of furthering their unrelated agendas.

    If Group Lotus dissappeared from the face of the Earth next week, F1 2011 would not be any different – what does that tell you…

  6. If the judge rules that the termination by Group Lotus of the 5-year licence deal from Tony was illegal, we will have 2 “Lotus” teams. Simple as that.
    Personally I wouldn’t mind at all. If only they don’t continue that STUPID “we are the real Lotus” bs. There is the link to Lotus. Now do someting new, fresh and innovative with it.

    If Lotus Group needs money, how come they are so opposed against a situation in which they ARE PAID to get their brand advertised in Formula 1??
    Team Lotus, as a newcomer, established itself immediately as one of the most sympathetic teams out there. Having the name Lotus surely helped them get established, but it wasn’t just that.
    If Team Lotus acted like HRT, I would have agreed with Bahar that he wants to cut all ties immediately. But Team Lotus has its stuff together. At least, that’s the feeling I have with them.

    I really don’t see what Bahar can have against such a company advertising his brand in Formula 1.
    So I’m one of those who starts disliking Group Lotus, beacuse of this.

    1. Because Bahar is a megalomaniac and must have control over how the team is run.

    2. US_Peter is right. He wants control. He was ditched by Ferrari and now wants to take them on.

      Even better the funding used to sponsor Renault could have been directed to Lotus. Hence causing Lotus to be better and even better advertising.

  7. They all come and go Bernard, bar Ferrari so im not sure thats a measure of worth. In some peoples eyes, certainly team owners, sponsors are the most important people of all.

    Most people involved in racing have a passion for it, a CEO and a CFO might decide to back grand prix racing over horse racing because thats where they want to go.

    Id not assume that just because someone can write a large cheque they are less of a fan or the fact they have “an agenda” lessens it either.

    1. Unfortunately, I think you may have missed my point. That being Group Lotus are nothing more than sponsors at this stage. They have no other impact on the sport besides the cheque handed to Renault in exchange for branding.

      People don’t watch F1 for the sponsors, they watch it for the teams.

  8. As much as I do take sympathy with Fernandes & Co., they have the option to call their team something else more so than Group Lotus.

    It’s about time the FIA stepped in.

  9. Half the time I call them Black Lotus and Green Lotus..

    1. The Last Pope
      26th January 2011, 17:33

      And Ferrari as Red Marlboro? Mclaren as Chrome Vodafone?

      We have Black Renault and Green Lotus, THE END.

  10. If this is sorted out after the start of the season, we could have two Lotuses at the beginning, and then one of them changing name halfway through the season, creating confusion. This needs to be quickly dealt with.

  11. I like your approach Keith – the real test as I’ve said before will be ‘What will Martin Brundle call them?’
    He can’t give them their full official title every time he mentions them, and what he says will stick in the popular conciousness if it gets used for more than a couple of races. The problem is, if he refers to them and Lotus and Renault and Group Lotus object to the BBC, then it gets silly.

    1. The Last Pope
      26th January 2011, 17:48

      The BBC guys will call them what the on screen graphics will, Renault. Martin will probably have to keep informing people why the Renault has a huge lotus logo on the front though.

    2. Why not use the Vic Reeves/Shooting Stars approach: Just use Team A and Team B.

  12. Chapman’s Lotus drew me into F1 in the first place and I was a fan for over two decades.

    I was initially dismayed when it was announced that TF was coming in as Lotus Racing, and by mid-season warmed-up a bit – but not much. I thought that maybe in two or three years they could reach mid-field and maybe even find the next Barnard, Head, Newey, Byrne or Chapman waiting to be discovered. The “old bulldog” could probably do a reasonable technical job till then.

    Now “another pretender” who is jealous of what TF managed to achieve and garner from scratch wants in on the action but on a grander scale – and by the looks of it – beyond their immediate financial reach.

    This is too much. Each of these guys needs a good swift kick up the backside followed with an infusion of common sense.

    1. The Last Pope
      26th January 2011, 18:11

      What about when Renault took over Benneton? Were the Renault team a fake? No, nobody complained that they continued their history from the prevous 1980’s Renault F1 team. The actual people at Renault car company having changed since the 80’s, How is this any different than the name of Team Lotus changing hands now and returning to the sport?

      1. I guess you have forgotten that Benetton used Renault engines for seven years before Benetton were bought in 2000 by Renault. The Benetton name was not changed in 2001, but was changed in 2002. There was no break in F1 participation. There was an orderly, timely transition – neither company were viewed as fakes. Prior to that, there was Renault Sport (Renault subsidiary) that raced as a constructor and engine supplier until 1986 when money became a problem. In 1989, they came back as engine supplier.

        On the other hand, David Hunt’s version of Lotus last raced as Lotus in 1994 and as Pacific Team Lotus in 1995. Well over a decade of NO TEAM LOTUS. Then smoke and mirrors from Asia – voila “Lotus Racing”. Then more smoke and mirrors from Asia – and all of a sudden there is “Team Lotus” and “Lotus Renault”.

        Sorry, but your Benetton/Renault analogy just doesn’t seem to fit – in my humble opinion, of course.

        1. I see an engine supplyer and a team as completly separate things. Yes Benetton had renault engines but that didn’t make the team have anything else linked to renault until they took over. Renault are a car company, they can supply people with car related products.

          By that reasoning it would be ok if David Hunt had used Team Lotus to supply anybody with anything he could make (Team Lotus flowers for example) Then Fernandes could say “Team Lotus has been supplying me with flowers for years, and now it is time for them to re-enter F1 as a team again.”

          F1 teams do not die they sleep. I believe someone always has the right to a team name, that right can be sold, and if the new ownwer wants to awaken it he is within his rights to do so.

          1. I don’t think I’m arguing against that point – “someone always has the right to a team name”. If you can buy it or license it, then it’s yours to use. I also said I was initially dismayed by TF’s Lotus – but I was slowly – very slowly – warming up to it. But now this Lotus Cars, Proton sponsorship, and “no, we have the real Lotus DNA” baloney tarnishes the name that I have admired for the last 46 years and it really annoys me.

  13. I cannot believe Autosport referred to Team Lotus as ‘1Malaysia’ all of a sudden.

    That’s incredibly unprofessional and frankly extremely irritating.

    1. 1MRT is who is fighting the court case, not Team Lotus, so Autosport are correct.

  14. I dont really see how it does anything bad to F1. Its something to talk about and something to joke about.

    I still say we call Renault by there official constructor name!!

  15. Fernandes has to back down because Group Lotus can’t, I mean they have to protect their name, they actually make the cars, they have a right to be there. In any case, Group Lotus have the upper hand in the court case so far so really there is all the incentive for Fernandes to call it a day here, it’s really beyond the point of silly.

    1. The Last Pope
      26th January 2011, 17:51

      None of that is true.

  16. I believe none of them should be called Lotus.
    Team Lotus is death since 1994, and unfortunately you can’t come back from the deaths.

    But the most important for me, is that none of them are respecting the history of Chapman Lotus. Chapman was a visionary, Chapman wanted us to look at his cars and see the future. This guys wanted us to look at his cars and see the past…

    1. amen to that..

  17. We do have a Mclaren Mercedes and a Mercedes Team at the moment.

    1. That’s different because:
      1) Mercedes Benz High-Performance Engines and Mercedes GP are both partly owned by Daimler AG. So there’s no confusion about which is the real Mercedes. Whereas Team Lotus and Group Lotus are two entities under different management.

      2) By the end of next year McLaren Group will have bought back the shares owned by Daimler AG and they will only be a customer team, like Force India.

    2. because the car must be called by its chassis manufacturer followed by its engine; where these are both the same, one will suffice as per Ferrari or Mercedes.
      Most motorsport is the same, ie the Aston martin raced at Le Mans last year would have liked to be called Aston Martin or at worst Aston Martin-lola; but the rules state chassis first and engine second. So it was actually officially called Lola-Aston Martin despite by Aston Martin.
      Which is whay as it strands at present the Fernandes cars will be called Lotus-Renault and the GL sponsored cars will be called Renault. The team may be called Lotus Renault just like others incorporate title sponsors into teir name, eg Cannon Williams Honda, Marlboro Ferrari

  18. So back in the old days you had Group Lotus who made the road cars, and then Team Lotus who raced in Formula 1. They were separate companies, who coincidently happened to be owned by the same person. Then Proton went and bought the Group Lotus brand, and with that the history, and reputation associated with it, and David Hunt bought the brand Team Lotus, and with that the history, and reputation associated with it. David Hunt then sold it to 1Malaysia and they therefore now own the history and reputation associated it with. After this is why brands have value.

    So working this logic, Team Lotus / 1Malaysia are the real Lotus because they bought the right company. If I bought The Coca-Cola Company, it would still be the real Coke, so why is it any different here. It doesn’t matter what the Chapman’s think, they sold out ages ago, they don’t own the company, therefore they have no say. It doesn’t matter that Colin Chapman, is dead. Last time I checked Enzo Ferrari and Bruce McLaren are also dead, and that doesn’t make Ferrari, or McLaren any less “real”.

    1. Yes that is how I see it too. The arguement seems to be that David Hunt didn’t do enough with the Team Lotus brand since it left F1 so their right to the lotus name is gone. I think this is rubbish. Would Group Lotus be able to go to Lotus shoes and say “You haven’t sold enough shoes, We want to make some Group Lotus shoes, you need to disapear now.” ? No. They cannot do that and what they are trying to do here is the same.

    2. This is a very good and accurate summary of the situation. The only conclusion from the courts is that Tony Fernandes owns the rights to Team Lotus and will continue to operate as such, and he should fight hell and teeth to ensure that happens.

      Colin Chapman is dead, and may he RIP.
      Clive Chapman and family sold out long ago and are no longer relevant.
      David Hunt sold “Team Lotus”, and no longer has a say.
      Group Lotus are, and prpbably officially never have been, connected to Team Lotus and therefore they shouldn’t have a leg to stand on.

      I’m crossing all fingers and toes, and hope more than anything (else in F1) that Tony wins this one and can firmly put 2 fingers in the air (as a Victory salute of course) to Group Lotus et al.

  19. I want three Lotus teams!

    1. I have just created a new company named Stationery Lotus. We make flower shaped pencil sharpeners. Hopefully I will be title sponsoring HRT in 2012. The Stationery Lotus HRT cars will have a red and yellow Lotus flower livery, half inspired by the classic gold leaf design. We will be making sure HRT are never left looking for a sharp pencil ever again.

      The REAL Lotus is coming to F1 in 2012.

    2. How about Lotus Schmotus

  20. Ahh Yes…how proud I am to be Malaysian.

    The stupidity of certain parties in our population never ceases to amaze me.

    This is typical of Malaysian politics, its nothing new to us here.

    In my opinion, none of them are the “REAL” Lotus. But Tony’s team is technically more “REAL” than the Renault effort.

    1. Why would Tony’s team be more ‘real’?? He has the rights to the the name. He bought the naming rights, but we all know that is the only thing that he has. He didn’t actually bought the real Lotus team. So there is no more ‘real’ between the 2.

      Group Lotus licensed Tony’s for the use of Lotus name in F1. But look what I found. I don’t know whether he is allowed to do that with that license.

      Would you like someone who you loan your car to work, but he went on and did a 3 laps around Sepang at racing speed???

      Wouldn’t you take back the car, and probably have some ‘talk’ with the guy? Or you let him do it again, because he is good at it???

      1. Well, if the laps he did with my car gave me more publicity and helped bring my business higher up in the public eye, I’d let him do it again. But that’s just me. Dany Bahar thinks differently :)

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