13 December 2010
Team Lotus returns to green-and-gold
Team Lotus will run its now familiar green-and-gold colours next season, but will be Team Lotus, according to owner Tony Fernandes.
No doubt to the relief of commentators everywhere, Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has admitted that it is unlikely that his F1 squad will appear in black-and-gold next season, but the Malaysian insists that there are no plans to find another name, despite the emergence of the rival Lotus-Renault operation.
Having competed as Lotus Racing, under licence from Lotus rights owner Proton, this season, Fernandes revealed that he intended to run as Team Lotus in 2011, complete with a version of the iconic black-and-gold livery made famous by the British sportscar marque during the 1970s and '80s. The Team Lotus name was acquired from businessman David Hunt following Proton's decision to revoke Fernandes' licence to use the Lotus brand just one year into a five-year deal - a move clearly pre-empted by its own desire to break into the top flight.
When images emerged late last week confirming Proton's acquisition of a share in the Renault F1 team and showing its own version of a black-and-gold livery, Fernandes admitted that his own squad would probably revert to the equally iconic green-and-gold that it sported on its return to F1 this season, but insisted that he would not be quite so relenting when it came to altering the team's name.
"Whether they copied us or we copied them is beside the point now," Fernandes told Reuters, "The point is what makes sense. Having two Lotus brands on the grid I think is no issue, but having four black cars looking the same I think is silly and one has to relent. We're not childish and emotional and saying 'oh no, we've got to be black and gold'. We're pragmatic."
Following chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne's decision to poll fans about their preferred colour scheme for Team Lotus via his Twitter feed last week - a move that prompted unwavering support for the current livery - Fernandes even managed to find his own reasoning for backing down over the colours and suggested that Proton and Genii Capital, now co-owners of the former Renault team, could face a backlash over its choice.
"There has been a lot of negativity about being associated with a cigarette brand," he said, referring to the John Player Special brand which promoted its products via Lotus during its heyday, "There was a strong lobby building up against [black-and-gold, claiming] that we were promoting a cigarette brand, so everything happens for the right reasons."
Fernandes also revealed that he had intended to run a version of the Team Lotus moniker in 2010, but was advised to deal with Hunt before doing so, as the younger brother of 1976 world champion James, had acquired the rights to the name following the original Lotus team's demise in 1994.
"We initially called ourselves F1 Lotus Team but their lawyer said 'no, you can't use 'Team' because David Hunt may injunct us', so we changed it to Lotus Racing," he confirmed, "We thought we had five years to go out there and prove ourselves.
"We received a five-year licence agreement from Proton and Group Lotus to go into F1, [and] my original aim was that, somehow, we would merge [with Group Lotus] or do something together and co-exist. Those plans all changed when Dany Bahar appeared on the scene. He had a very low regard for us, [and] I'm disappointed at the way things have turned out."
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