Lotus vs Lotus: Time to stop the nonsense

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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 started hating all those Lotus guys – I lost the trail, seriously. I don’t know who’s who, even though they get more media coverage than Ferrari. And therefore, I would not care about them anymore, even if they are gone from F1. Just leave Kubica in the seat, whatever seat that is.

  2. judo chop said on 26th January 2011, 11:24

    As Tony Fernandes licensed the Lotus Racing moniker from Group Lotus doesn’t that imply an acknowledgement on his part that Group Lotus can race using it or any other “Lotus” variation?

  3. figgin said on 26th January 2011, 11:38

    Jean Todt is busy campaigning for road safety, so please don’t bother him. ;)

    Personally, I don’t see why there couldn’t be two Lotuses in F1 at the same time: a Lotus racing team (Team Lotus) and the Lotus road cars manufacturer as a sponsor to another racing team (Renault F1). They’ve both spent tens of millions of euros to participate in F1, so they’ve got every right to be there — unless the judge decides otherwise, of course.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 26th January 2011, 11:41

      Thing is, road car manufacturer wants to become THE racing team too. There lies the rub.

    • Dougie (@f1droid) said on 26th January 2011, 11:51

      I guess this could all come down to who owns what name…

      Group Lotus
      Lotus Cars
      Team Lotus

      …and whether or not anyone actually owns just “Lotus”… possibly not. In which case, there is no winner or loser (except us the fans), and 2 Lotus’es (Loti?) on the grid.

      The judge’s biggest headache will probably be over the termination of Tony Fernandes deal with Group Lotus.

  4. ukk (@ukk) said on 26th January 2011, 12:05

    Renault is Lotus.
    Renault is Lotus?
    Is Lotus Renault or is it Lotus Renault?
    I’m not getting it.
    Who from Lotus works at Renault?
    Was Renault stealing secret Lotus drawings from ’72 onwards?
    How come Renault is Lotus then … or now?
    I’m not a native English speaker, maybe this is why I’m not getting it.
    Excuse my English … or French? :-)

    • Burnout said on 26th January 2011, 12:14

      At the moment, Renault is Lotus in the same way that Ferrari is Marlboro, McLaren is Vodafone and Mercedes is Petronas. Group Lotus is just the title sponsor as of now.

      The problem is that Tony Fernandes owns the rights to call an F1 Chassis “Lotus”. So Group Lotus can’t buy out the Renault team and become the only Lotus racing team as many people suspect they want to.

      • ukk (@ukk) said on 26th January 2011, 17:18

        It just gets more confusing for me – why is it a problem that Tony Fernandes owns the rights for an F1 chassis to be called “Lotus”?

        • It is a problem because we now haev a Team Lotus (constructor: Lotus) and Lotus Renault (sponsor: Lotus) on the grid.

          Team Lotus (Fernandes) doesn’t like another team being called Lotus on the grid.
          Group Lotus doesn’t want another team being called Lotus on the grid.

          Fernandes owns the rights to use it in F1 and hence wants Group Lotus to leave f1.

          Group Lotus can call road cars Lotus and has decided that Fernandes is wrong.

          Group Lotus has decided that sponsoring a team is the same as having a team called Team Lotus and is trying to claim Team Lotus’ history as theres.

          Team Lotus says they are a reincarnation of Team Lotus and since they are Team Lotus and have the rights to be Team Lotus in f1, then thye are Lotus

  5. Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 26th January 2011, 12:07

    I agree with other here who think that Dany Bahar’s vision for Group Lotus is going to end in tears…

    I also like Team Lotus, not because they’re called Lotus, but because they’re the plucky underdog trying to make it in the sport.

    For me I think TF should cede the Lotus name and rebrand his team line with his GP2 operation – Team Air Asia.

    Then, if as many think, Group Lotus ends up for sale then Tony can swoop in and buy the company anyway and then have the option of once again owning a Lotus team in F1.

  6. barkun (@barkun) said on 26th January 2011, 12:10

    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.

  7. antonyob said on 26th January 2011, 12:15

    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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 26th January 2011, 14:00

      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.

  8. sam3110 (@sam3110) said on 26th January 2011, 12:28

    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.

    • 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.

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

  9. Aetost said on 26th January 2011, 12:41

    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)…

    • Aetost said on 26th January 2011, 12:48

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

  10. Bernard (@bernard) said on 26th January 2011, 12:50

    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…

  11. Bäremans said on 26th January 2011, 13:05

    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.

    • US_Peter (@us_peter) said on 26th January 2011, 20:27

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

    • 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.

  12. antonyob said on 26th January 2011, 13:05

    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.

    • Bernard (@bernard) said on 26th January 2011, 22:11

      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.

  13. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 26th January 2011, 13:33

    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.

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

    • The Last Pope said on 26th January 2011, 17:33

      And Ferrari as Red Marlboro? Mclaren as Chrome Vodafone?

      We have Black Renault and Green Lotus, THE END.

  15. Fixy (@fixy) said on 26th January 2011, 13:49

    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.

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