This probably could have come a lot sooner. Despite the dislike from fans during the court battle, Group Lotus were pretty mature about the whole thing. They never really commented on anything until the final verdict, wheres sometimes it seemed like Tony Fernandes couldn’t go a day without Twittering how righteous his team was in the matter. That’s probably the main reason why Fernandes won so many fans early on – he was running as Lotus first, and was the most successful of the newcomers. Those who were on the fence about it were problably swayed once he turned to Twitter and made himself out to be the victim.
Sniff Petrol can be snarky, but they’re mostly harmless. They were funny to begin with, but then they started re-hashing old jokes and criticising even the tiniest details. They’re a lot like the Golden Raspberry awards – they started out funny, but then they developed an agenda – in 2002, Madonna made the atrocious Swept Away, so the organisers of the Razzies started giving her awards for whatever excuse they could find; she got “Worst Supporting Actress” for Die Another Day, even though she never actually received actor billing like Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike, and had all of two lines in the film, even though elegibility for a Golden Raspberry is based on the elegibility for an Oscar. The organisers broke their own rules to prove a point (though her Razzie for Worst Original Song in Die Another Day was totally justified). I think Sniff Petrol have gone down the same route, alternating between rehashing unfunny jokes and needlessly beating a dead horse to prove a point.
Saward is perhaps the worst offender. As I’ve pointed out several times, I think he’s clearly got a grudge against Vijay Mallya and Force India for firing Liuzzi. In his rebuttal to Group Lotus, he claims he has always been up-front about his role at Caterham, but it’s buried in the Blog Rules section (a weird place to put it; “About Joe” would be better a better place for it, but he makes no mention of it there, even under his consultancy tab). Now that I look back on it, he has run a lot of stories claiming that the sale of Group Lotus is imminent, and it has never come to fruition. He has been quite accurate on occasion, detailing the loans between the team and Lithuanian banker Vladimir Antonov – who later got arrested for embezzlement – but Group Lotus’ financial woes have been a regular fixture of his blog, even moreso than criticism of Mallya.
So I think it’s a good thing for Lotus to have come out and cleared things up – at least from their point of view – but I think it might be a case of too little, too late. They should have done this a year ago, at least. For now, the damage has been done. Even if they did score points in hiring Raikkonen and producing some decent results this year.