Mike Gascoyne has confessed that he finds Group Lotus' persistent opposition to Tony Fernandes' plans in F1 'slightly perplexing' - admitting that should Lotus Racing be forced to sacrifice the iconic brand in 2011, it would be 'a great shame' for all those who have done the name proud this year.

As the ongoing row between the two parties remains unresolved - with Fernandes' bid to revive the classic 'Team Lotus' moniker blocked by Group Lotus' insistence that he does not own the rights to do so, the subtext being that the latter wishes join the grand prix grid itself next year by buying the remaining 25 per cent of Renault F1 not owned by G?rard Lopez's Genii Capital company - Lotus Racing chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne has spoken out on the matter.

"We don't understand why Group Lotus don't want to support us," the Englishman told BBC Radio Norfolk. "We think we brought the brand great value. The shareholders have invested something like ?80 million into the brand and development of the team.

"I think it's a great shame for everyone in Norfolk because we're a Norfolk-based team, we brought the Lotus name back to F1 and we did it proud. We don't quite understand why we don't have the support of Group Lotus in that - but that's not in my hands. My job doesn't change with the name, and the same with all the engineering staff."

Indeed, having finished as the best-placed of the F1 2010 newcomers in tenth spot in the final constructors' standings at the end of its maiden campaign of top flight competition, Lotus Racing stands to take a sizeable leap up the pecking order next year after signing an engine-supply agreement with Renault and a gearbox and hydraulics deal with double world champions Red Bull Racing. The only thing is, the team may no longer be able to carry the iconic Lotus name.

"I do not want to comment on Proton's move to enter F1, but their action certainly will have some bearing on [our] team name," acknowledged Lotus Racing chief executive Riad Asmat, speaking to Malaysian newspaper The Star. "For now, we are preparing our team and we want to be ready for any eventualities. We are definitely going to be there when the [2011] season starts."

Fernandes was licensed to call the Anglo/Malaysian outfit Lotus Racing by Proton - the owners of Group Lotus - but after the AirAsia founder purchased the rights to the legendary Team Lotus name from David Hunt, brother of 1976 F1 World Champion James Hunt, the Malaysian car maker suddenly rescinded that licence, arguing that the rights had never been Hunt's to sell in the first place, but rather theirs'.

With Renault tipped to be rebadged Lotus-Renault, both 'Team AirAsia' and 'Proton 1Malaysia' have been mooted as potential alternative identities for Lotus Racing in 2011, involving sponsorship for Fernandes' operation from Proton to help compensate for the loss of Formula One Management (FOM) revenue engendered by a name change.

The case is currently awaiting a hearing in the High Court, whilst to add a further element of incredulity into the whole equation, the two warring factions are based just ten miles apart from one another, in Hingham (Lotus Racing) and Hethel (Group Lotus).

Meanwhile, with a GP2 Series endeavour in tandem with multiple champions ART Grand Prix having already been confirmed, Group Lotus has now also inked a five-year deal to supply the IndyCar Series with in-house engines and aero body kits from 2012, with a motorsport facility to be constructed at Indianapolis too, to provide the company with a base right in the thick of the action.

"We want to compete with the big boys," conceded Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar. "Lotus is unique in the automotive world; no other car company has been more successful in such a wide variety of motorsport disciplines, whether it is Le Mans, World Rally, sportscars, F1 of course or IndyCar. This year we teamed up with KV Racing for IndyCar, and we will significantly increase our participation next year.

"However, in 2012, IndyCar competitors will have the exciting opportunity to choose an IndyCar with a Lotus engine and aero body kit, immediately becoming part of the legacy that is Lotus - one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world."

"The history and DNA of Lotus is all about extracting the most performance out of a car in return for maximum efficiency," added Lotus Motorsport director Claudio Berro, "and we are delighted to offer our engine and aero body kit to the 2012 IndyCar Series.

"We will be using the knowledge gained from our extensive research into E85 bio-fuel and turbocharged engines to ensure we extract the maximum performance, and as you would expect from the company that pioneered aerodynamics in sportscar and F1 racing over the years, our aero body kit will also be a world-class solution. Will the 2012 Lotus IndyCar will be as innovative and revolutionary as the Lotus Type 38 that won in 1965 and changed Indy forever? Maybe - we'll have to wait and see!"

Whilst IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard admitted that the championship is 'honoured' to have attracted Lotus' support in such a manner, Gascoyne appears rather less impressed by Proton's venture, musing: "They seem to want to do every racing series that there is. For a loss-making car company that seems to be slightly perplexing, but good luck to them."



Loading Comments...