The Lotus Racing F1 team has finally confirmed that it will be serviced by customer Renault engine power next season, putting an end to what has been an open secret for several months.
But there is something murkier lying beneath the surface in all of this, with the team’s press release not making a single reference to itself by its current ‘Lotus Racing’ name, or mentioning ‘Lotus’ a single time.
Rather, it referred to itself as an “Anglo-Malaysian team”, no doubt in some sort of reference (and perhaps concession?) to its ongoing dispute with Lotus Cars over the use of the Lotus name.
Lotus Cars and its parent company, Group Lotus, recently announced it was expanding its motorsport operation into GP2, and it was believed that its dispute with Lotus Racing boiled down to Group Lotus wanting to get involved in its own F1 operation.
At the same time, sources are suggesting that Renault is wanting to scale back its F1 involvement to being that of an engine supplier only – effectively in the same manner that it did between 1984-97 – which would pave the way for the team’s majority shareholder, Genii Capital, to seek other commercial partners for next season.
And enter Group Lotus, which if you put two and two together, could become a title sponsor – and possibly a minority shareholder – of the outfit.
This in turn would lead to the ludicrous situation of having two outfits on the grid wanting to call themselves ‘Lotus Renault’, and it would almost certainly force the hand of the team currently known as Lotus Racing to adopt a different nomenclature.
However, Tony Fernandes’ perception of the entire series of events is somewhat different, with the airline magnate still hopeful of a joint venture arrangement with Group Lotus.
Getting on his Twitter account just a few hours ago, Fernandes wrote: “Much said about our name. To many people reading to much into it. We are Lotus Racing this season. Next season we are still Lotus.
“[This] makes sense for racing team and Group to be reunited. How and weather (sic) it will and in what form will form discussions over next few months,” he added.
[Original image via LAT]