Following the revocation by Lotus to use their name for his F1 team after just a single season, Fernandes instead went and purchased the rights to use the ‘Team Lotus’ moniker – held privately by David Hunt, brother of the late 1976 World Champion, James – just as Group Lotus had purchased an equity stake in the Renault F1 outfit.
Both parties have failed – or refused, depending on who you believe – to come to an agreement on the matter, meaning that (at present) two outfits on the grid will be calling themselves ‘Lotus Renault’, subject to the outcome of a court hearing.
And matters have showed no sign of slowing down over the weekend, with the Renault F1 outfit unveiling its black-and-gold Lotus livery at the AUTOSPORT International Motor Show, just as Team Lotus has released images of its Hingham-based factory, rebranded with the classic Lotus ‘CACB’ logo.
“I don’t think it will be a matter solved by English courts,” Bahar (pictured) told the BBC in an interview.
“I think it will be solved before that. But if we have to go the legal way, we will – and our shareholders will support that,” he said, referring to the Malaysian government-owned Proton car company.
Bahar – a former commercial manager with the Ferrari F1 outfit – arrived at Group Lotus shortly after it had first agreed to give Fernandes the license to use its name, and he swiftly set about convincing the board that Group Lotus should have a greater presence in worldwide motorsport, kicking it off by plastering its logos all over Takuma Sato’s KV Racing motor in the IndyCar Series.
“[After I arrived at Lotus] we had our own ideas and plans and that’s nobody’s fault, not the shareholders’ and not Mr Fernandes’ fault,” Bahar added.
“I think with any business relationship, you start on good terms and if it turns out to be beneficial for both parties, you continue … This one turned out to be an unsuccessful relationship.”
Lotus recently confirmed it had secured – or bought, as some of our readers have suggested – the support of the Chapman family over its increased involvement in F1, with the descendants of the original team’s founder turning against Fernandes’ outfit, a team they had given their support to just a year earlier.
Lotus had also recently secured the support of former F1 driver Jean Alesi – a man with no prior links to Lotus – to help promote its brand and be actively involved in its ‘ready to buy’ F1-spec car project.
So is this a case of misplaced confidence, or does he have another ace up his sleeve? We might have to wait and see, but the court of public opinion is not the group Bahar should be trying to convince…
[Original image via Lowyat]