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Bahar: Team Lotus should be allowed to 'rest in peace'

As Lotus Renault GP and Lotus Racing increasingly lock horns in the embarrassing F1 naming row, Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has called for the iconic Team Lotus to be permitted to 'rest in peace'
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has called for an end to the embarrassing ongoing row between Lotus Racing and the newly-renamed Lotus Renault GP outfit in F1, by stressing that the iconic, Colin Chapman-founded 'Team Lotus' brand should be permitted to 'rest in peace' – and claiming that Proton's initial efforts to do a deal with Tony Fernandes were scuppered by 'absurd' demands in return.

Prior to Bahar's arrival at Lotus last year, the management of the car company – which is owned by Malaysian manufacturer Proton, with backing from the country's government – had granted Fernandes the licence to enter F1 under the Lotus Racing banner, and with the ex-Ferrari and Red Bull man well appreciating the merits of promoting Lotus through the medium of motorsport, all the groundwork for a collaboration between the two parties should theoretically have been in-place. Only no agreement could be reached.

Bahar has revealed that Group Lotus endeavoured to join forces with Fernandes' operation, only to be dissuaded by 'ridiculous and absurd' terms – driving Proton instead towards Renault, in which it will eventually buy a stake of somewhere between 25 and 50 per cent, it is understood.

“If the price had been right, if some conditions had been more realistic I believe this would have been the right approach,” the 39-year-old is quoted as having said by James Allen on the former ITV-F1 commentator's internet blog. “We were not afraid of partnering with Mr. Fernandes. We tried, but when the counter-proposals are so ridiculous, there is no point to continue to talk. [The Renault deal] was one third of the cost.”

“Complete rubbish,” retorted Fernandes. ” We never even talked about numbers. Proton paid us $1 million in sponsorship. I offered [Bahar] to be joint venture partners, I offered share swap, we did everything. If he gave us $20 million (the level of Lotus' sponsorship of Renault), he could have got so much out of it. He would be in Norfolk, sponsoring a team that own Team Lotus. He would have Clive Chapman down the road and together we could all have worked together to bring Lotus to greater heights in three years.”

Bahar explained that he did not make any attempt to purchase the 'Team Lotus' rights from David Hunt – brother of 1976 F1 World Champion James Hunt – as he believed that being in charge of Group Lotus, 'no judge in the world could stop me promoting my brand in F1'. And then when Fernandes announced his intention to re-baptise his own squad with the legendary moniker next year, battle lines were drawn. At one point, both teams even planned to run in the same black-and-gold JPS-reminiscent livery.

“We don't claim to be Team Lotus, and we don't want to be,” Bahar urged, seeking to dispel his public image as the 'bad guy' in the whole scenario. “It has a glorious past, but Team Lotus should be kept where it was – it should rest in peace. We do not want to become a second Team Lotus – we will never be one – but we don't want other people to call their car a Lotus, because the Lotus car is our brand.”

Indeed, despite the current confusing prospect of two Lotus teams lining up on the F1 2011 starting grid, Gérard Lopez – whose Genii Capital investment group owns a majority 75 per cent stake in what was Renault F1 and is soon to become Lotus Renault GP – agrees that no current team can lay claim to the ultra-successful, multiple world championship-winning Team Lotus legacy since its sad financial collapse and subsequent disappearance from the grand prix grid 16 years ago.

“There is no claim that this has anything to do with the Lotus racing team of old,” he told BBC Oxford. “I don't think either group – neither us nor them – could really lay claim to that. This is a Lotus-branded racing team that is attached to Group Lotus who manufacture road cars. We are sure to be called what we are going to be called, but I'm not sure they will be called that way. It's pure speculation that there might be four cars using the same name.”





Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
31.01.2010 Valencia, Spain Gerard Lopez (FRA) Genii Capital, Renault F1 Team - Renault F1 Team Launch

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN), Lotus F1 Team

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN), Lotus F1 Team
18.02.2010 Jerez, Spain, Tony Fernandes, Lotus F1 Team, Team Principal - Formula 1 Testing, Jerez, Spain
Friday Practice 1, Tony Fernandes, Team Principal, Lotus Racing
Artist`s impression of 2011 Lotus Renault GP
1963 and 1965 F1 World Champion Jim Clark on his way to victory in his Lotus 25 Climax V8 in the 1963 British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Lotus logo [Pic credit: Group Lotus plc]
Ayrton Senna (BR), John Player Special Team Lotus 98T. French Grand Prix, 06/06/1986, Paul Ricard, France.
Ayrton Senna (BR), John Player Special Team Lotus 98T. Monaco Grand Prix, 11/05/1986, Monte Carlo.
Ayrton Senna (BR), John Player Special Team Lotus 98T. Monaco Grand Prix, 11/05/1986, Monte Carlo.
Lotus E22 with Hisense sponsorship
Sebatian Vettel and David Coulthard at the Russian Grand Prix circuit in Sochi - Pic credit: Infiniti
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Ressa - Unregistered

December 16, 2010 7:04 PM

DTGM: You are absolutely right! Danny Bahar, Eric Boullier and Proton are making things worse for themselves. If you notice all the bad mouthing is coming from these people. Neither Fernandes nor any Team Lotus guys are giving bad/negative comments about the Lotus Renault F1. I think if VW bought Lotus, they would be on par with FERRARI, LAMBO AND PORCHE. PROTON owns LOTUS for 14 years now. They have gained nothing from it for the benefit of their cars and vice versa. After 25 years in operation, PROTON have downgraded themselves from a car manufacturer to car assembler by rebadging the Mitsubishi Lancer. Instead of concentrating on each others production cars they are sponsoring an F1 team. Y dun they make gd cars first...

almaaaaa

December 16, 2010 4:48 PM
Last Edited 1352 days ago

I shall quote Tony Fernandes (before a few of you start bashing him): "There was no such thing as an offer," Fernandes told AUTOSPORT about Bahar's claims. "There is an understanding that Lotus's involvement with Renault is worth £20 million, which would therefore mean that I was seeking £60 million - which is a complete fabrication. "We never got past an initial dinner meeting. Dany Bahar and Riad Asmat met and that was it. No offers were ever exchanged. "We were very open to equity sharing, working together and other combinations. We wanted it to work for the good of the Lotus brand - and it made sense to combine. "I can state categorically that there is no way we were three times more expensive." "How Eric Boullier can say we have fooled fans - I think that is an insult to fans. Fans will make up their own mind. If we are not up to the mark they will not give us any support. You cannot fool anyone. (continued on next post)



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