Tony Fernandes has evoked the future prospect of a 'common brand' between Lotus and Caterham following the official confirmation of his acquisition of the niche British sportscar marque yesterday (Wednesday) – but as regards 'the eventual shape and form' of what is presently Team Lotus, he concedes that he 'doesn't know, to be honest'.
Following several days of speculation, Fernandes announced yesterday that Team Lotus and Caterham have joined forces in a dynamic new partnership [see separate story – click here
] – with some surmising that should the High Court ruling in his ongoing legal battle with Group Lotus over the rights to use the iconic Lotus name in F1 go against him, he will now have an alternative identity to fall back upon.
In what the Malaysian entrepreneur clearly hopes will be a mutually advantageous and reciprocal relationship, Caterham is expected to benefit from F1 technology in the production and development of its affordable road-going sportscars as well as greater exposure through its new link to the glamorous and high-profile world of grand prix racing.
“[Team Lotus will] make F1 accessible through Caterham,” Fernandes said at the Duxford aviation museum, according to F1 Fanatic
. “There will be lots of different types of racing we'll be doing to allow our fans and Caterham fans to have an experience.
“We'll obviously be using the technology that Mike [Gascoyne – Team Lotus chief technical officer] and his team have to put into Caterham cars. We will have some new models. When we started this F1 journey, we always wanted to manufacture cars; we always thought F1 produced a fantastic platform to do that.
“Unfortunately, the gods conspired against us. Obviously, we wanted to work with Group Lotus; that hasn't happened, but it's funny how life has a way of sorting itself out and things end up even better than what you first imagined.
“[Caterham] has a unique place at the heart of motoring world. The parallels between my original life at AirAsia – where we set up a new brand – and what we have with Caterham is uncanny. When I took over AirAsia, they had 200 staff; there are about 200 staff at Caterham. The parallels of building something that will be reaching a much larger market is something we're very excited about.
“My aim would be, at some stage, to have a common brand. I think that both have their aspirations. As to the way, shape and form, some will be dependent on the legal case, some will depend on how it looks and feels and I'll take the view of the fans as well. It's all to play for, but at least we've got something to play with, which is the objective. As to the eventual shape and form of this team, I don't know, to be honest.”