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.

Lotus naming rights row

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