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Name changes should be free from politics, claim team bosses

Ross Brawn leads drive for F1 team names changes to be approved without petty objections from rivals.
Ross Brawn and fellow team bosses have hit out at potential objectors to those teams wanting to change their identity between the 2011 and 2012 F1 seasons, claiming that there should be ulterior motive for them to give their agreement.

Both Lotus Renault and Team Lotus are seeking a name change at the end of the current campaign, as much to ease the confusion that their similar monikers are causing among casual F1 fans, but have run into roadblocks that have forced the matter to go to an official meeting of the F1 Commission rather than being signed off by the ten remaining teams. According to reports, Sauber, HRT and Ferrari have all raised questions about the proposed switch - ironic given that two of the trio have undergone makeovers of sorts in recent years.

"I guarantee those teams that are trying to change their name will have had approaches from other teams who want different favours paid in order to agree to the name change," Brawn told Reuters at the South Korean Grand Prix, "And that's not correct. I know that happened to us when we wanted to change our name - people sought to get favours from that decision."

Indeed, it is only the longest-serving teams, such as Ferrari, McLaren and Williams, that have tended to remain under the same identity, and Brawn is among those that has reason for sympathising with Renault and Lotus, having needed to change names in his F1 past, notably when transforming the defunct Honda team into the eponymous - and ultimately successful - Brawn GP. That team them morphed into Mercedes Petronas GP - having also had to go to the F1 Commission - in much the same way as Red Bull Racing was formerly known as both Stewart Grand Prix and Jaguar and Force India grew out of Jordan, Midland and Spyker.

"I recall [that], when there was a desire to change the [Brawn] team name to Mercedes Benz, how a number of people conspired against that, which was a ridiculous position to take and very damaging to the sport," McLaren's Martin Whitmarsh noted, "If it's clear that the name change facilitates the funding and the retention of that team within F1, then we shouldn't use the polemics and politics of F1 to prevent it."

Team Lotus is likely to adopt the Caterham F1 moniker when it brings an end to its naming row with Lotus Renault but, despite the official line on objections centring around the precedent unopposed changes will set for the future, Group Lotus' Dany Bahar's lack of popularity in the paddock is also rumoured to be close to the heart of the delay.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, can see the reason for both Renault and Lotus wanting to change their identity, but insists that it should not be an automatic right to do so.

"It doesn't make any sense for a team to be called Renault when it isn't Renault," Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted, "Therefore a name change in a situation like that makes sense.

"[However,] I think where F1 needs to be a little bit careful is that the teams are brands, [and] there needs to be more careful consideration given to the names of teams and the mechanism by which they can be changed. We also have to be careful that it just doesn't end up in a merry-go-round and companies that have the same company number just change effectively the entrant name on a yearly basis."

The F1 Commission is scheduled to meet in the first week of December, but Bernie Ecclestone has reportedly asked for that meeting to be brought forward to the start of next month in order to get the matter cleared up. The reason for going to the Commission is to ensure that both teams keep the rights to any prize money they have accrued. Either could simply adopt a new name without permission, but would then forfeit any monies they are owed. Both proposals need 18 of the 26 Commission members to vote in favour of a change.

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Caroline - Unregistered

October 15, 2011 3:28 PM

@Googolplex They didn't, the team is called Renault F1, the sponsor is Group Lotus, so people just call it that. The Team name is the chassis name, if you look inside the tub you can see it written on an identification plate. If teams change their name, they potentially lose their Bernie money, and this money gets redistributed to the other teams, that's why several other teams don't want Renault to become Lotus via an agreed vote, they want them to change their name all by themselves, lose their Bernie money and see it shared out, the same goes for Team Lotus (if they finish 10th in the WCC).


October 15, 2011 1:48 PM

How did Renault get to rename itself Lotus Renault without the other teams' agreement. It seems odd the teams would have agreed to allow a state of confusion to occur in the first place. They definitely should not now be standing in the way of allowing Team Lotus to make the changes necessary to end that state of confusion.

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