Tony Fernandes has revealed that he has rejected an out-of-court offer to settle the naming dispute between his team and Group Lotus over the use of the Team Lotus name.
A court hearing into the affair has been scheduled for 21 March but Proton-owned Group Lotus has now made an offer to Fernandes to try and resolve the issue before the hearing takes place.
The problem has arisen after Group Lotus terminated its licence agreement with the team last year and then went into partnership with the Renault team to form Lotus Renault GP. At the same time, Fernandes entered his team as Team Lotus after purchasing the rights to the name – with Lotus then insisting the Malaysian tycoon couldn't actually use the Lotus name.
However, while an offer of £6 million has been made to Fernandes to settle the dispute, the Team Lotus chief insists he won't be bullied and has rejected the offer in place.
"It was six million pounds for an out-of-court settlement,” he told AFP
. “Of course I would like to end it but the proposal by Proton would have bankrupted the company. We could not accept it.
"We never created the situation. We had a five-year agreement. Proton thought they can bully us out. We honestly worked hard to revive the Lotus name in F1. I hope it will end soon. The legal row does not help. That is for sure.”
Fernandes added that 250 jobs, and huge investments by shareholders, were at risk as a result of the ongoing argument.