Bahar ‘determined’ to win right to call team ‘Lotus’

2011 F1 season

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Monaco, 2011

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Monaco, 2011

Group Lotus chief executive officer Dany Bahar says they are “more committed than ever” to secure the use of the name ‘Lotus” in F1 despite their defeat in the high court last week.

In a statement issued by Group Lotus, who sponsor Renault, Bahar said the company were appealing the ruling to clear up “confusion” among fans and “F1 commentators who use the word ??Lotus? interchangeably for both teams”.

Here is the Q&A issued by Group Lotus today:

Following the result of the naming rights court case, is there an update regarding Group Lotus? F1 involvement?

Dany Bahar: The judgement grants Group Lotus the rights to use the name ‘Lotus’ and the Lotus roundel on their own within F1, we are, therefore, even more committed than ever before to our long term plan within the sport.

“The Judge also found that Team Lotus, run by 1Malaysia Racing Team, has the right to continue to race in F1 under the name Team Lotus and using the Team Lotus roundel.

“As a consequence, it is inevitable that the similarity of the names Lotus and Team Lotus will cause confusion not only amongst F1 supporters and the wider public, but also amongst F1 commentators who use the word ??Lotus? interchangeably for both teams as demonstrated throughout the season so far.

“With the full support of our parent company, Proton, we are seeking leave to appeal so that this point can be clarified for the benefit of all interested in F1.

“With regards to our involvement with Lotus Renault GP, as Lotus we stand united with Genii Capital and have every confidence in the future success of Lotus Renault GP.”

This must have also been an interesting time for your parent company Proton. Does this have an impact on your relationship?

DB: “They have followed the court case with great interest and like us, they are looking forward to the matter being brought to a close. More importantly than the on-going F1 naming issues, the past year has been an extremely important one in Group Lotus? history and Proton has played, and continue to play, a crucial role in our development.

“One of the most critical elements of this support has been assisting us in securing the funding for our future plans. I am happy to confirm that this is now all complete thanks to Proton?s help and, together with Proton, we can focus on completing the five year business plan to return Group Lotus to profit.

“We have an incredibly strong relationship with Proton, they support us 100 per cent and frankly this is really important for a company like ours. Part of the business plan is the joint development of a global small car platform meaning that for the first time in the Proton Lotus history, the relationship will be mutually beneficial. This alone should demonstrate how close we are.”

With F1 and a complete new car line up, there seems to be a lot going on at Group Lotus, what?s the status regarding Lotus Cars and your activity in motorsport generally?

DB: With road cars we?re in a good position, we?ve completed year one of a five year plan and we are making good progress on the development of the new Esprit which will be the first of the new models to go on sale.

“Based on the feedback we have received since the unveiling in Paris from customers, the media and the industry, we have made some adjustments to our plans. For example, feedback regarding the Elan showed us that it was too close in style and positioning to the Esprit, and so as a consequence we have delayed the delivery of the Elan – delayed not cancelled. This allows us to focus more of our attention on the Evora which I believe has fantastic potential.

“We are now concentrating our efforts on making sure that the quality of the Evora matches its undeniable performance. Another major development that has come about as a consequence of the feedback we received is that we are now developing our own engine to use in our future cars, creating even more the ‘pure Lotus experience’.

“With regard to motorsport, everyone always asks about F1 but for us, it?s not just about F1, given that motorsport in general is a key ingredient to our marketing strategy. We have always been and will always be an automotive brand that is associated with racing.

“Congratulations to Nick Heidfeld on his result in Monaco, when he came in eighth to earn valuable points that pushed him up a place in the Driver?s Championship to sixth; whilst Tony Kanaan did a great job coming fourth at the Indy 500.

“We want to win though, not just participate. But we don?t expect everything overnight, we start slowly and gradually build up our presence in a way that makes sense for our business. Look at our involvement within IndyCar, we started last year with one car, now we have three and from next year onwards we?ll be offering engines. People always question the cost but, believe me, if we couldn?t afford it we wouldn?t do it.”

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124 comments on Bahar ‘determined’ to win right to call team ‘Lotus’

  1. Kirk said on 2nd June 2011, 22:26

    Good, Fernandes is exceedingly annoying to listen to so it won’t hurt to knock him down a peg or two.

  2. Laura said on 2nd June 2011, 22:45

    I don’t find the two teams indistinguishable at all. One’s a Renault and the other one isn’t! :D

  3. BROOKSY007 (@brooksy007) said on 3rd June 2011, 1:04

    What a snake, why not buy out team lotus!! Then tony fernandes can sponsor or buy renault! Renault would have a pretty big chunck of f1 money aswell, wouldn’t it? Maybe Renault caterham!! What engines do caterham use, maybe he could use a renault – package deal that benifits all!!!

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd June 2011, 1:18

      why not buy out team lotus!

      Because Tony Fernandes will never sell. The reason why Group Lotus went to Renault in the first place was because they felt Fernandes miused their name in 2010 and no longer wanted to be associated with them.

      • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 3rd June 2011, 2:19

        He’ll sell – at the right price. He can always use the Caterham name. But the price would be so ridiculously high, Proton can’t afford it.

        Given the court’s ruling, I suppose it’s only fair if Dany felt that way about Team Lotus. But surely the better business logic would’ve been to let bygones be bygones and help Tony promote the name for much cheaper?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd June 2011, 11:37

        PM, fine if you have arguments, but stop writing things that are just not true. Bahar never had the intention to go with Fernandes from the moment he set foot into Lotus Cars, he has clearly stated so himself.

        The complication there was, that he came to late to prevent the Lotus Racing deal being made and then looked at ending it ASAP already in december 2009.

  4. Free21 said on 3rd June 2011, 2:18

    This is so stupid. Lotus Renault used to be Renault F1, which used to be Benetton, which used to be Toleman. Throughout the history of F1 it has been an ENTIRELY different team to Team Lotus.

    This ploy by Bahar is ridiculous. Has anyone heard his embarrasing keynote speech audio, the guy couldn’t even tell which DECADE Lotus had last partnered with Renault!!!

    Everyone supporting Renaults use of the Lotus name have been bought off, it is so sad to see.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd June 2011, 6:40

      Throughout the history of F1 it has been an ENTIRELY different team to Team Lotus.

      But – and this is a very big but – Lotus Cars want to acquire the team from Renault. Renault have made it pretty clear that they’re cashing their chips and leaving the sport as a team (though they will stay on as engine suppliers). Lotus Cars want to buy the rest of the team; that’s why they became title sponsor. And they’re looking to do that for 2012. Which means that while there might be a Lotus and a Renault now, soon there will be a team run and owned by Lotus Cars and a team run team run and owned under the Team Lotus name. And that’s the right Dany Bahar is fighting for: the right to run a team under a name that he has full rights to and sole ownership of. The presence of Team Lotus on the grid denies him that right, despite the fact that the courts agreed he and Group Lotus were well within their rights to terminate the licencing contract they had with Tony Fernandes in 2010. The fact that they were entitled to break the contract in the first place combined with Fernandes’ acquisition of Caterham makes a very strong case for Fernandes being able to comete under a different name. While Bahar might control the likes of Proton, Lotus Cars has had a pervasive programme of sponsoring teams in multiple disciplines of motorsport. To run a Formula 1 team under the Proton name means that the company would stand to lose millions in various investments.

      • Mark said on 3rd June 2011, 8:41

        Only problem with all that is that Renault dont own the team, Genii Capitol mostly own it. And its not for sale. Renault is the name of the chassis and nothing more. Renault supply the engines to the Renault team in the same way they supply the engines to the Red Bull team. Lotus/Proton are sponsors so dont own any of the Renault team. Also, if they change the name of the chassis then they lose all the money from FOM for racing the previous year.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd June 2011, 9:38

          Also, if they change the name of the chassis then they lose all the money from FOM for racing the previous year.

          Sauber changed their chassis named between 2010 and 2011 without incurring a penalty. It would appear that teams can go through a transitional year to safeguard their earnings.

          • Mark said on 3rd June 2011, 9:52

            They have to get all the other teams to agree to the change, what chance for Renault?

          • GQsm (@gqsm) said on 3rd June 2011, 10:19

            Only because the other Teams agreed. Bahar is not liked within other F1 teams (Inc Team Lotus!) so you can be sure other teams will not agree to a chassis name change without penalty.
            Sauber run using BMW money in 2010, I seem to remember reading that was why they didn’t drop the BMW part till this year.

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd June 2011, 11:39

            The reason why they waited was the FOM money. And the Concorde agreement allows you to change name once in 3 years maximum.

      • Richard M said on 3rd June 2011, 11:38

        The judge said that Lotus can be called Lotus. (Obviously this is dependant on Commercial factors within the Genii Team). Thats what they wanted! Now they are upset for a separate reason, that Team Lotus can remain Team Lotus.

        Until Proton put their money where their mouth is and give Genii enough cashola to change the Chassis name to Lotus, there will be ab black car ‘Renault’ and a green one ‘Team Lotus’.

      • Laura said on 3rd June 2011, 16:42

        I’m sure Proton would be delighted to hear that they are ‘controlled’ by Bahar!

  5. driftin said on 3rd June 2011, 5:41

    Confusion? There’s no confusion. Everyone knows these days the black and gold cars are Renaults and the green and yellow ones are Lotuses. Sure, it might have been different in the 70s and 80s but that was 30 years ago.

  6. Oliver said on 3rd June 2011, 7:35

    Group Lotus had the opportunity to buy the Team Lotus name for 5 quid, but they wanted it for free. Tony then bought that name further complicating matters.
    As I believe, there are no saints in business, Group Lotus have been arrogant with a sense of entitlement, while 1Malaysia, have some other motive outside of F1.
    The 2 dwarfs decided to use F1 as their battle ground, unfortunately they don’t stir up any dust. It is business as usual. They both have no effect on the racing.

  7. Steve said on 3rd June 2011, 8:38

    commentators and other drivers do call the Renault Lotuses from time to time. It annoys me as we don’t go about talking of Vodafones or Marlboros.. If Bahar wants his car to be named Lotus, he should build it and not just be title sponsor. That’s why I’ll always support Team Lotus, they did it the hard way in line with the old Lotus Maverick spirit starting from scratch; while Group Lotus thinks throwing a wad of cash at Renault makes them the ‘real’ Lotus.

  8. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 3rd June 2011, 8:59

    I put off reading this article purely because I’m just sick to death of the issue.

    Oh, and btw, that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate you covering it Keith, I’m just fed up as most people are with this situation.

  9. Jimmy Chopin said on 3rd June 2011, 10:44

    The only thing Lotus about Renault is the sticker on the rear wing. The whole mentality of Lotus is what Tony Fernandez’s team exemplify.

    Dany Bahar is a corporate slimeball as I said he couldnt even say which DECACE Lotus last partnered with Renault. You think he deserves to be called Lotus?

    The team used to be Renault, before that Benetton F1, before that Toleman. It isn’t Lotus.

    • Jon said on 3rd June 2011, 14:10

      But the only thing Renault about Renault is the engine. The team’s more Lotus than it is Renault. They sold their share.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd June 2011, 14:18

        That’s like saying McLaren is more Vodafone than Mercedes!

        I consider the engine to be quite a big part of being a team. A lot more than the paycheck for it. Or would you call Ferrari Marlboro?

        • Jon said on 3rd June 2011, 15:02

          I wouldn’t call a McLaren a Vodafone, but I also wouldn’t call it a Mercedes.

          The Ferrari example isn’t quite the same, as the team is owned by the Ferrari/Fiat car companies. Lotus Renault GP use a customer Renault engine; the Renault car company has no stake in the team at all any more. Group Lotus do.

  10. JimN (@jimn) said on 3rd June 2011, 10:47

    I find the decision by Group Lotus to appeal on the grounds of confusion bizarre. If you read the full judgement, the judge is very clear that Team Lotus has all the history and is associated with F1. Whereas Group Lotus is only associated with sports cars, but he had no problem with Group Lotus entering F1 as well. If Group Lotus actually ‘win’ the appeal (which is probably unlikely) and only one team is allowed to use the word Lotus in F1, then from what the judge has already said, it’s almost certain to be Team Lotus!…. that seems a very brave appeal to me.

  11. Boost (@boost) said on 3rd June 2011, 11:07

    Next time Bahar will go to court trying to change all people from saying “Wassup dawg” to “How do you do, sir” ;)

    I acutally find this case very interesting. Two different companies are now able to use the same logo but only one may use the logo with “Team Lotus” under it. I don´t think anything will change after the appeal but it will be interesting to see if the ruling will be changed.

  12. tom said on 3rd June 2011, 11:07

    It’s true that most people call one team “Renault” and the other “Lotus”. So there isn’t much confusion.
    However, that’s exactly what Group Lotus doesn’t want. They want to be associated with the black and gold Lotus, not the green and yellow Lotus.

    I totally understand their continuous battle in court and I support it. I don’t know much about the legal issue, about naming rights and who owns what. So from a legal standpoint TF might well be right. But I think it SHOULD be that the company that is called Lotus can decide which F1 team is allowed to associate itself with that automaker.

    On the other hand, I don’t understand TF either, especially not since he now owns Caterham. Where’s the advantage for him in naming the F1 team after Lotus? It would make much more sense to call it Caterham and use it as advertisement for his company rather than somebody else’s.

  13. Shimks (@shimks) said on 5th June 2011, 10:18

    Bahar’s appeal. If it fails, does he stand to lose anything extra (sorry, can’t think of a better word) by the judge slapping him with some injunction or other? Is there any risk involved? For example, could they lose the right to use ‘Lotus’ at all in F1?

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