It looks as though the end is near for the Group Lotus vs Team Lotus fiasco, with the Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus outfits – along with the HRT outfit – set to apply to the F1 commission to change their chassis names for next season, provided they can get the green light from the rest of the teams…
To say it’s been a confusing to have two teams on the grid operating as ‘Lotus Renaults’ would be nothing short of sublime understatement.
We’ve had a curious situation: Group Lotus has been the naming rights sponsor of the Lotus Renault GP team, running cars called Renaults, while Team Lotus has been running with chassis’ called Lotus’.
With the naming rights case in London’s High Court having ruled that Group Lotus had no basis to claim it owned the rights to the ‘Team Lotus’ nomenclature it had failed to buy, the latest story is that Lotus Renault GP owner Gerard Lopez is set to buy Group Lotus from its parent company, Proton.
The end result will see Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar cast aside, which will be welcome news for the F1 paddock, having achieved little other than to irritate all concerned with laughable plans to pitch Lotus cars as the Ferraris of South-East Asia.
The Malaysian government is the principal owner of the Proton Group, and with its subsidiary Lotus Cars posting significant losses, the government would no doubt be keen to get it off their books, with rumours that the current balance sheet is some $150 million in the red.
Should Lopez and his consortium be successful in taking control of Group Lotus, then this will pave the way for him to lodge a request with the F1 Commission to change the 2012 F1 car’s chassis name to ‘Lotus’.
In turn, Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes – who acquired the Caterham car company in recent months – will apply to change his team’s chassis name to Caterhams.
The F1 Commission requires complete agreement from the sport’s remaining stakeholders to allow this to happen without the respective teams incurring a significant financial penalty, that being the loss of income under the Concorde Agreement, which has a clause written to state than changes in chassis names amount to the creation of a completely new team.