Not before time, Group Lotus’ controversial CEO Dany Bahar has finally been fired from the organisation. No one in the Formula 1 fraternity will miss him.
A fortnight ago, the wheeler-dealer was suspended from his position by Group Lotus’ board as it investigated a complaint into his conduct in his role.
“The decision was made by the Board of Group Lotus PLC following the results of an investigation into a complaint made against him by the company’s penultimate holding company, DRB-HICOM Berhad,” a statement from Group Lotus now reads.
Bahar will trumpet himself as the man who spearheaded the return of the Lotus name to Formula 1 – as a chassis-builder – when he set about getting the Renault F1 team to rebrand itself as Lotus.
His move in turn created a massive rift with Tony Fernandes, who had been legitimately leasing the rights to the ‘Lotus’ name for his own Formula 1 team before Bahar came on the scene. After a lengthy and extremely costly court battle which Fernandes won, Bahar ultimately got his way when Fernandes relinquished further interest by buying the Caterham car company and rebranding his F1 team in its honour.
Those outside the Lotus circle will trumpet Bahar as the character whose actions will have ultimately destroyed what little is left of the carmaker’s good name.
Surrounded by a cohort of ‘yes men’ who should have realised the folly of his ideas, Bahar set about positioning the debt-ridden Lotus brand as a sort of Porsche and Ferrari revival, despite the carmaker having little in the way of a customer base or profile to even compete with either marque.
His policy seemed to get the Lotus brand as visible as possible in as many championships as he could: simply slap some Lotus stickers on cars in different championships and off you go. Put your name (but little cash) on a late-in-development IndyCar engine and watch it splutter hopelessly around the circuit. All well and good, but not when there’s no money coming in from any car sales…
Matters came to a head earlier this year when the Lotus F1 team announced that it had torn up its sponsorship deal with Group Lotus after a raft of non-payments.
Team owner Gerard Lopez looks set to be the only man who could possibly save the Lotus brand in all of this, but it’s all looking decidedly messy at this point.
Bahar, meanwhile, gets to keep the last of Lotus’ millions with the ultimate golden handshake that he’d written into his own contract. One hopes he’s happy.
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