Lotus Racing is reportedly under some pressure to end its ongoing dispute with Proton over the iconic 'Team Lotus' name that it wishes to acquire in 2011 – or else risk Renault changing its mind on its long-mooted engine-supply deal.
Since Lotus officially terminated its initial three-year agreement with 2010 partner Cosworth last month, a much-touted tie-up with Renault has been eagerly-anticipated – but thus far, no announcement has been forthcoming. All that has been confirmed is a gearbox and hydraulic arrangement with current world championship leaders Red Bull Racing.
The reason behind that, it has been mused on grandprix.com
, is that Renault is distinctly uneasy about the very public and protracted legal row between Lotus Racing team principal Tony Fernandes and Malaysian manufacturer Proton, who own Group Lotus and recently withdrew the AirAsia founder's right to use the Lotus licence in F1 as they ostensibly have racing plans of their own.
That, it would appear, was the catalyst for Fernandes to purchase the rights to the Team Lotus name from David Hunt, brother of the late former F1 World Champion James Hunt – rights that Proton questions.
The sticking-point is that Renault is reputedly interested in an alliance with Proton, who ended their working relationship with VW in 2007 and have since described another partnership as 'vital' as they endeavour to significantly boost their overseas sales figures in the Middle East, China, India and south-east Asia. grandprix.com
reveals that there is already a deal for the Proton Savvy to benefit from the 1.2-litre engine used in Renault's Clio and Twingo.
Another fact yet to be confirmed – but taken as a given – is that both Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli will stay put into a second season alongside each other at Lotus, with the experienced Italian conceding only: “I cannot say anything about staying, except that it will probably happen.”