BBC F1 commentator Martin Brundle has weighed into the debate over the Lotus naming rights row, describing it as “confusing” for fans.
The 51-year-old has also suggested that now would be the right time for one of the complainants to back down from the current face-off, and suggesting that it was carmaker Group Lotus that now held the upper hand.
The naming rights dispute between Group Lotus and Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus operation will be heard in a summary hearing at London’s High Court on Monday, and Brundle has offered his opinion on what is descending into an almighty and ugly row between the two groups that could see four cars in the pit lane for the season-opening race trying to call themselves a ‘Lotus Renault’.
As far as Brundle is concerned – although neither side is showing any sign of wanting to do so – one of them needs to back down before this drags on for too much longer.
“I’ve read up on it copiously, I’ve spoken to the people, I’ve tried to understand the politics, the money, the egos – all the things that are involved in the situation,” he recently told audience members at the AUTOSPORT International Motor Show.
“I think Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne and the Lotus team did a great job [in 2010]. I personally am very supportive of new teams in F1 – we don’t want four or five top teams running four cars [each]. Mark Webber, Fernando Alonso, we found them in a Minardi; Michael Schumacher started in a Jordan when it wasn’t a top team; Ayrton Senna started in a Toleman in 1984. We need this interest level in F1 of the fresh teams, so I was delighted to see Virgin Racing and Lotus on the grid – though the HRT thing confuses me a little bit, if I’m honest…
“Now we’ve got this squabble; we’ve got the black Lotus Renault and we’re going to have the green-and-yellow Lotus, but for me, the car company have the high ground – especially now they’ve got the Chapman family supporting them, and other people like Nigel Mansell, a Lotus stalwart – and I don’t understand why Lotus at Hingham are promoting somebody else’s brand. I’ll see what’s there at the first race when we walk up-and-down the paddock on the Thursday, but black Lotus, green Lotus, it’s just going to confuse everybody.”
That’s probably stating the obvious, but Brundle did offer some sympathy to Fernandes, who has seen support for his campaign take a big hit with the defection of support from the Chapman family to the Dany Bahar-led Group Lotus concern.
And Brundle believes that Fernandes might be wise to concede defeat and just let the matter go.
“I would imagine [Fernandes] is very disappointed,” added Brundle.
“He went into that with a passion for a brand. Should I start a team up and just call it Brabham or Tyrrell, though – does that mean that I’ve got something special, that I’ve got a brand there? A very good example to underline this point is that Red Bull have no heritage or history in F1, but they’re the double reigning world champions. I think people get a bit too hung-up on a name like that.”
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