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”

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  1. Keith,
    The last time i checked there are two manchester teams in the Premier League – Man. Utd. and Man. City. The FA doesnt seem to mind and the spectators never get confused between the two.

      1. Yup Keith, my bad.
        The current court case, if im not wrong is about 1MRT breaching a contract with Proton on the use of the brand Lotus Racing, which also include the battle of ownership over the name Team Lotus. Say TF got it in his favor, there ll be 2 Lotuses like there are 2 Manchesters but still there will only be 1 ‘Team Lotus’, like theres only 1 Manchester United. Thats all im saying, people just need to get used to it.

        1. Was actually referring to these confusing parts of ur article…

          “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’.”

          which u alluded to in..

          “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.”

          Got it???

          1. The comparison does not hold at all. Manchester United and Manchester City are two different teams with different histories. Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus are both making claims on the same history.

    1. That’s the worst analogy ever!

  2. A F1 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 being prepared by prodrive and entered by Aston Martin Racing.
    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…but this is not how they will be referred to during the race; and we keen F1 fans will know the difference any way. However casual F1 fans ( and there are millions and millions of them) will be confused to see LOTUS plastered all over the car MB will be calling the Renault and another car refered to by MB as Lotus with little Lotus branding visible. For sponsors this is a minefield and i suspect it is costing Fernandes money already.
    TF lessed Lotus Racing name for 5 years in good faith, it has been removed for no good reason than GL changed their minds. they state breach of contract and took it back. TF knew what they were at and protected his investment by buying the TL name from Hunt.
    Its just messy, and to muddy the waters further when Renault announced the engine supply deal for Fernandes’ team they only mentioned the name 1 Malaysia, not Lotus!!
    GL should have bought out his lease (surely it had a buy back clause), compensated him and allowed him to rename as Air Aisia or Tune Group. I believe due to the way it has been done that he has dug his heels in and to hell with the consequences. The man of the street is generally siding with TF as it seems the smaller company is being screwed by what is effectively a country (GL).
    The FIA dont need to get involved yet because the cars names have not been changed to something identical.

    1. How is it a good faith, when he create a product under Lotus F1 Racing, while he was only licensed to race, even before completing its’ first season?

      Nobody is bullying anybody here. A company is trying to protect it’s interest, while the other is an opportunist.

      Why would a successful businessman want to be in F1 using a name that he doesn’t have any relation to?

  3. Forgetting all the emotive arguments this is a legal matter which will decided by the courts.Its not a question of who deserves it.Its a question of who owns it at Companies House UK.Team Lotus is a UK registered company.The Team Lotus name and the CABC team lotus logo can be owned by different companies.You may own the the logo but not the team name.And if you only own the logo and not the registered name you cannot call yourself after the the logo name.If you own the name but not the logo you can use the name but not not the logo.There are four different “team lotus” names at companies house.Plus classic “team lotus” names.Added to which each company name is subject to any one or more of various classifications of activity.Class 41 is motor racing.Class 35 is marketing and so.All of this information is available from the UK Companies house website and in the case of logos the UK IPO office which are freely availble.After checking these sites and ordering and paying for documents I know exactly who owns what and which classes they own.

  4. Neither team are british, so neither should use the name, its just a marketing scam… I’m supporting any team not called lotus this year.

  5. In the end, TF will back off, I’m sure. If he gets enough money, either as settlement, or some ‘loan’ from Bernie, ‘to preserve the team’, he will stop. He can’t win this, there’s too much at stake for group: launching 5 new models and raceteams is such a big enterprise, with so much money, businesspartners and employment at stake, that the momentum is theirs.

    I don’t think it’s a deliberate ploy but indeed Bernie is probably very happy with all this free publicity. No racing, still lots of press. But in the end – my guess would be before march – he will step in and help them come to a solution. (if he’s not in a German prison, finding some other inmate’s dropped soap)

    Still, to me neither

    1. …is Lotus

  6. I was very excited when I heard Lotus name is coming back to F1. But now, especially after Fernandes’ “Team Lotus” stunt I can’t see myself supporting either of them.

    None of them is Team Lotus. Period. And I’d prefer for them both to stop using name Lotus, but that’s not gonna happen…

    1. So that makes you a fan of branding and not racing teams?

      You will indeed be sorely missed as a ‘supporter’.


  7. It’s pretty simple.

    Group Lotus wants to sell cars. They want to be in F1 as Lotus (and other series) in order to sell more cars. (witness Ferrari, Mercedes).

    Team Lotus wants to do F1, and calling themselves “Lotus” is a branding exercise to make this effort as commercially successful as possible. (One can imagine that if “Lotus” wasn’t available they could have purchased the rights to “Shadow” or “Eagle.”)

    I appreciate that Fernandes bought the rights to Team Lotus from Hunt. What I don’t understand is the repeated assertion that he bought “the history.” No one can buy the history of the Lotus F1 Team. The name is available, the history is . . . history.

  8. I’m relieved to see that I’m not the only person that noted massive bias in some of the main motor sports journals.

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