The boss of the Luxembourg-based Genii Capital – which owns the F1 team – spoke at the launch of the Group Lotus-sponsored Renault’s R31 in Valencia, which occurred only hours after Team Lotus launched the T128 model that will also carry the Lotus moniker.
Group Lotus terminated the Malaysian outfit’s license to use its name after just a single year of a five-year contract, and then elected to buy into the Renault F1 team, sparking a hostile and bitter row between the two parties that has now escalated to several hearings in London’s High Court.
And with Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes digging his heels in on the matter, Lopez has accused the airline magnate’s behaviour as being motivated by money.
“I’ve dealt with the press for many years, not just in Formula One but also in business, and you’ve got to call a spade a spade, and I can tell when somebody is trying to twist things,” he told reporters.
Lopez claimed that Fernandes’ fight – which the Malaysian claims as being for the Lotus legacy – has more to do with seeking the commercial rights income to which it is entitled.
“It’s the fact that if 1Malaysia Racing [Team Lotus] changes their name, they lose their FOM money,” he added.
“It’s an issue for them, and it’s probably one I wouldn’t take too kindly to if I was in their shoes. But just admit to the reality, that it’s about money. It’s nothing else,” he concluded.
An interesting point raised by Lopez, particularly given that Group Lotus is seemingly performing it own act of trying to get the greater public to perceive its Renault F1 car as a Lotus.
Were it to seek to change its constructor name to ‘Lotus’, it would require the full approval of the other eleven teams – which will not happen at this stage – to do so without losing its own slice of the commercial revenue it would earn having finished fifth in the Constructors’ Championship standings last year.
The court hearing cannot come soon enough.