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. Dafffid (@dafffid) said on 26th January 2011, 14:09

    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.

    • The Last Pope said on 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.

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

  2. LuvinF1 (@luvinf1) said on 26th January 2011, 14:21

    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.

    • The Last Pope said on 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?

      • LuvinF1 said on 27th January 2011, 1:08

        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.

        • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 27th January 2011, 2:34

          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.

          • LuvinF1 said on 27th January 2011, 15:05

            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.

  3. Dan Selby said on 26th January 2011, 14:34

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

    That’s incredibly unprofessional and frankly extremely irritating.

  4. Rhys Coles (@lightmas) said on 26th January 2011, 16:52

    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!!

  5. 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.

  6. JCCJCC said on 26th January 2011, 18:31

    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…

  7. Eastyoki said on 26th January 2011, 20:01

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

    • Burnout said on 27th January 2011, 5:13

      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.

    • WarfieldF1 said on 27th January 2011, 9:27

      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

  8. Pinball said on 26th January 2011, 20:26

    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”.

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 27th January 2011, 2:54

      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.

    • Dougie (@f1droid) said on 27th January 2011, 13:03

      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.

  9. John H said on 27th January 2011, 0:18

    I want three Lotus teams!

    • The Last Pope (@the-last-pope) said on 27th January 2011, 3:17

      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.

    • How about Lotus Schmotus

  10. Jay Menon said on 27th January 2011, 0:44

    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.

    • F1 Fan said on 27th January 2011, 8:44

      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.
      http://www.foodbev.com/innovations/lr8-natural-energy-drink-for-lotus-f1-racing

      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???

      • Burnout (@burnout) said on 30th January 2011, 5:18

        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 :)

  11. TheKop said on 27th January 2011, 9:33

    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.

      • TheKop said on 28th January 2011, 4:15

        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.

        • TheKop said on 28th January 2011, 4:27

          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???

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 28th January 2011, 7:54

            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.

    • That’s the worst analogy ever!

  12. WarfieldF1 said on 27th January 2011, 9:40

    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.
    Messy!!

    • F1 Fan said on 27th January 2011, 17:33

      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?

  13. Stuart said on 27th January 2011, 9:41

    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.

  14. 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.

  15. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 27th January 2011, 13:15

    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

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