The Tony Fernandes-owned team was founded with support of Lotus’ Proton group in his Malaysian homeland, but the relationship between the two sides has deteriorated over the last months, with the carmaker now withdrawing all sponsorship support and demanding that the team no longer uses its name from next season.
Fernandes has recently purchased the rights of the ‘Team Lotus’ name held by David Hunt – brother of the 1976 World Champion, James – which he held since Team Lot’us’ closure at the end of the 1994 season. The airline magnate is now claiming his right to use the ‘Team Lotus’ name from next year onwards, which is in conflict with the view held by Group Lotus.
In a written statement, the team announced that its deputy Team Principal, Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun, met with Proton’s advisor, former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir to discuss their respective concerns.
“The meeting was to discuss the matter in person and agree a future course of action for Lotus Racing,” the statement reads.
“Lotus Racing believes it is acting within its own rights, and as a result of this meeting, the team will now refrain from making any further comments on the matter. This action is upon advice from Tun Dr Mahathir, and it is out of our respect for him that we will act upon his wishes as he has supported us since our inception, and his backing has been invaluable in our growth.
“We are very grateful for having had the opportunity to put forth our case and have complete trust that a fair review will be made, and a decision on the matter will be announced in due course.”