Team Lotus – formerly Lotus Racing – has made what could be viewed as the first concession in its ongoing battle with Group Lotus by decided to revert to its green and yellow livery rather than run the black and gold colour scheme it had originally claimed it would do.
But the Group Lotus owned Renault F1 team had recently announced that it would also run a black and gold scheme, forcing Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes to brand it “ludicrous” for there to be four cars running similar colour schemes.
This is the first step to hopefully draw a line in the sand for the sport’s fans, who had feared that there would be confusion created by having two teams running near-identical liveries.
However, Fernandes has dug his heels in on the use of the Lotus moniker in his team name, as he told AUTOSPORT in his first interview since the takeover of Renault by Group Lotus was announced.
“I have no problem that there will be two Lotuses on the grid. But I do think it would be ludicrous if we are both black and gold, and I can inform you that we will be changing our plans for the colour scheme,” he said.
“They have painted their car black and gold, they have made their intentions clear on that front, so be it.”
He continued: “But every cloud has a silver lining, and I received some messages from people suggesting that by being black and gold we would be promoting a cigarette company. I wasn’t actually aware that JPS [John Player Special] was still being sold in the United Kingdom and various parts of the Commonwealth. So did I need that controversy? No.
“And after yesterday’s announcement by the FIA about the new engine plans for 2013, which means F1 is going green – so what better colour to be than green? So, we have been testing our fans’ reactions and many have come back to us to say we should stay green and yellow. So, I am 99% sure that we will be green and yellow,” he concluded.
Fernandes again used the interview to express his frustration that Group Lotus has joined teamed up with his outfit, which was already operating with the Lotus name under license.
“My first reaction is obviously disappointment. We were originally given a mandate for five years to go and develop a Formula 1 team,” he said.
“There are comments that have emerged in the Malaysian press that Proton was disappointed with our performance, which is one of the reasons that they gave up. I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could expect us to be competing in the top half of the grid, or even up in the bottom half of the grid, last year – having just been given an entry in September.
“I stand by the fact that I think we did very well in the year and I think that 99% of the paddock would agree considering where we came from. We built a classy team – a team that could do pit stops in the same time as Ferrari … and performed well on the track with two good drivers. We were the best of the new teams.”
He added: “Logically I think we could have built a great brand together. I think this year if anyone says that we didn’t help Lotus then I think they are mad, because we have helped them. And the reaction from the public is very strongly in support of us. So I think given time we would have built something good, and the perfect scenario for me would have been a merger of the two with one ambition.”
Fernandes will continue with its legal bid in the London High Court to clarify who has the rightful claim over the use of the ‘Team Lotus’ name, and added that he remains grateful for the messages of support from the team’s fans.
“This support we have got has been built up over a year,” he said. “People are not stupid any more, and I think the reason for the support is the people see we are trying to do something the right way.
“I am not Colin Chapman, and I never will be. He is a legend and we are not going to emulate him – but everything he did is what we are doing. He built it from scratch and did not buy into anything. You have to have brands that people love. There is lots of competition out there and people have to have respect for what you do.”
Got that, Dany Behar?