An official announcement is expected later this morning, but speculation suggests that as its very public naming row with Group Lotus rumbles on, Team Lotus is set to be rebranded as Sonangol Caterham F1 following the acquisition of Caterham Cars and the arrival of a new title sponsor.
A media briefing has been called today (Wednesday) at Duxford Aerodrome in London to make an 'incredibly exciting announcement about the future of the team' [see separate story – click here
] – widely-anticipated to be the confirmation that Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes has purchased Caterham from venture capitalist group Corven, thereby ostensibly securing the Surrey-based marque's long-term future.
The Malaysian entrepreneur told Autocar
magazine that 'Team Lotus is a platform to promote Caterham', with further details expected to be revealed over the weekend of the F1 2011 British Grand Prix at Silverstone in July – with the promotion of new products and the introduction to new markets understood to be key aspects of an evolutionary strategy moving forwards, whilst at the same time respecting the heritage of both iconic brands.
A special-edition Caterham Seven – limited to just 25 examples – will also be produced in Team Lotus colours in celebration of the new collaboration.
According to The F1 Times
, Fernandes was recently named as the new director of Caterham Cars in a report held by Companies House – whilst on 19 April, reveals motorsport scribe Peter Allen, the following five domain names were registered by Net Names, the same company that hosts Team Lotus' current domain: sonangolcaterham.com
The retention of Team Lotus in the final registered domain suggests that Fernandes is keen to hold onto the legendary moniker should London's High Court permit him to do so – whilst Angolan national oil company Sonangol has financially backed the career of the Anglo/Malaysian outfit's current test driver Ricardo Teixeira for some time.