Eric Boullier has accused his fellow F1 team principal Tony Fernandes of being 'wrong' in his efforts to perpetrate what he calls a 'fake' notion that Lotus Racing is an extension of the iconic Team Lotus that once dominated the sport and conquered the hearts of millions of fans all around the globe.
The ongoing standoff between F1 2010 newcomer Lotus Racing and the team that will soon be rebranded Lotus Renault GP after Proton – the owners of Group Lotus – purchased the remaining 25 per cent of the Renault F1 outfit, remains as unresolved as it has ever been.
The latter's managing director has spoken to Italian website 422race.com
to give his take on the embarrassing dispute, and to express his disdain at Fernandes' resilient determination to use the iconic 'Team Lotus' moniker next year, leading to the potentially confusing scenario of two Lotus entries on the F1 2011 starting grid. Boullier insists he is not overly concerned.
“It's difficult to give an opinion on this,” the Frenchman stressed. “There are many people involved in this quarrel. The only thing I know is that Proton decided to invest and to be a sponsor of our team. This makes us the official representative of Lotus. You can try to be called Team Lotus, but at the end there is only one team with the support of Proton and which is therefore representative of Lotus Cars.
“If I can find somebody in England whose name is maybe Richard Ferrari, I can buy the right to use his name – that is how stupid the situation is. It's very bad for the fans, because [Fernandes' Lotus] is fake. Telling the fans about the Lotus heritage and so on is wrong. If you're called Lotus and you're manufacturing cars, then this is the only official name. That's it.”
Assuring that 'nothing will change' either in the management structure or on the commercial side following Proton's arrival since 'Genii [Capital] controls the team', Boullier added that the official renaming will happen in due course before the beginning of the 2011 world championship campaign. He also acknowledged that the Enstone-based operation can gain from the experience and expertise of people like Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar and sporting director Claudio Berro.
“Sure, we'll benefit as a partner,” he mused. “We actually plan to meet and discuss with them (Group Lotus), but they are currently working with a car manufacturer and they're not in F1. Of course I will be working with them for their experience, but the daily business is run by Genii, not by Lotus Cars. Lotus is just a sponsor and, as the title sponsor, they have the right to be in the team name, as the regulations state – but there will be no commercial change.”
On the topic of the team's second driver for next season, finally, Boullier revealed that there is 'no deadline' and that he is 'not in a hurry' – and insisted he would not be influenced by Bahar's stated desire for Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov to be kept on-board into a second consecutive campaign.
“Again, they are sponsors, they are partners,” he underlined. “They are not deciding who they want. We will keep the driver we believe can bring a full package and a good balance between sporting results and business. It's good if we can match the wish of Dany Bahar, but the decision will be of the team.”