The twists and turns in the Team Lotus naming rights lawsuit are coming thicker and faster than a Dan Brown novel, with the Malaysian team on the receiving end of a shock piece of news on the very day when their court hearing with carmaker Group Lotus gets underway in London’s High Court today.
David Hunt – brother of the late 1976 World Champion James, and then from whom whom Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes acquired the ‘Team Lotus’ name – has now turned from being an ally to an enemy of the airline magnate’s case, and launched a well-timed public attack on the team.
In a nutshell, the dispute centres – as most have done in this messy affair – over money, or rather the lack of it, with Hunt claiming Fernandes has reneged on the originally agreed-to deal and not stumped up the payment in question to Hunt for the purchase of the name.
“When we had to make the Team Lotus staff redundant in 1995 I made a promise to them and the fans to return it to F1 in the hands of a worthy custodian, and initially I had high hopes that [the Lotus bosses] were going to tick the boxes,” he told London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“What angers me is that I have, in good faith, worked extremely hard on the build-up to the hearing because I believed Tony would honour our January agreement,” he continues. “He’s apparently ‘changed his mind’ at the 11th hour, by his own admission, now that I’ve done so much work on his company’s behalf, and he’s trying to renegotiate by offering new terms which are, frankly, ludicrous.
“All I’m looking for is for Tony to stick to his word and honour our agreement. If he doesn’t, then regrettably I don’t see why I should continue to provide assistance and this trial won’t be the last battle he’s facing, even if he wins.”
By contrast, Team Lotus has not surprisingly rejected the allegations, and counter-attacked by claiming that it is Hunt who is playing hardball by trying to renegotiate the deal for a higher price.
“Team Lotus has an agreement with David Hunt which was signed by both parties. David Hunt has tried to renegotiate that agreement, which Team Lotus is not prepared to do,” a Team Lotus spokesperson has replied.
With the High Court case between Team Lotus and Group Lotus set to get underway today, there is little doubt that Hunt’s attack is not unrelated to the case, and it will do little to strengthen Team Lotus’ that it has a legitimate claim to operate under this name.
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]