F1 set for Lotus v Lotus battle

Wed, 08 Dec 12:11:00 2010

The Renault Formula One team will be renamed Lotus Renault GP next season under a partnership with the Malaysian-owned sportscar company.

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At the same time, French car company Renault have sold their remaining stake in the team to Genii capital, already the majority shareholder.

"Group Lotus plc will subsequently become a major equity partner in Lotus Renault GP, which it will co-own with Genii Capital," the team said in a statement.

Confusingly, unless there is a further name change by their opponents, Lotus Renault will be competing against the existing Team Lotus - also Malaysian-owned and also powered by Renault engines.

Both also plan to race in new black and gold liveries harking back to the glory days of the late 1970s when Colin Chapman's original Lotus team were winning races and championships.

Team Lotus, who made their debut this year as Lotus Racing and are owned by aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, are at odds with the Lotus Group owned by carmaker Proton in a battle over the use of the brand.

Fernandes claims the rights to Chapman's 'Team Lotus' name, which has been kept separate from the car company of late.

The dispute is currently heading for the High Court in London, although the new season will be well under way before any hearing.

"We're well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I'm delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back," said Lotus Group CEO Dany Bahar.

Fernandes, currently in Bangkok, sounded equally confident: "Never felt better about our future and Team Lotus. Looks like they trying to hijack our black and gold idea," he said on Twitter.

His technical head Mike Gascoyne added: "Lotus, just like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once.

"Rest assured, we are Team Lotus and we are here to stay."

Genii said their announcement was part of a strategic alliance between the two companies "that will provide Group Lotus with significant technological and commercial opportunities for its range of road cars.

"Following the return of the Lotus name to Formula One in 2010, under licence from Group Lotus, this historic announcement marks the complete return of the Lotus manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of its parent company Proton," it added.

The title sponsorship agreement will run until the end of the 2017 season and Renault will continue to supply engines, technology and engineering expertise.

"We will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons," said Renault F1 chairman Gerard Lopez.

Renault F1, with Poland's Robert Kubica partnering Russian Vitaly Petrov, finished fifth in this year's constructors' championship.

Reuters

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