David Hunt talks about Team Lotus

David Hunt, who is the owner of Team Lotus Ventures Ltd, which is in the process of selling the rights to “Team Lotus” in F1 to Tony Fernandes of Lotus Racing, has the following to say about the current situation with Group Lotus, trying to elbow Him and Fernandes out of its way in order to enter F1 as a sponsor of the Renault F1 team, a deal which will be announced this weekend (if all goes to plan). This is an interview Hunt has given to his old friend Peter Windsor, F1 journalist and sometime team owner.

Windsor: “First there was the press conference in Singapore, confirming that Team Lotus are finally back in F1. Then, the day after the race, Group Lotus – Proton, actually – declared (and I quote) that they are the ‘owners of this (the Team Lotus) brand and will take all necessary steps to protect it.’ I think they also said that, until 1994, Group Lotus and Team Lotus were under common ownership, with common directors, and that Team Lotus, under your ownership, has never raced, adding that your ownership is ineffective. What was that all about?”

Hunt: “I was infuriated by that because I view it as libel. They’re basically saying that I have been lying for the past 16 years. All these claims are complete nonsense. If Team Lotus was under common ownership and control, how come the Chapman family sold it to Peter Collins in 1991? Why were Group Lotus a third-party sponsor of the Lotus F1 cars during Collins’s tenure? And why did they stand by while the Administrators then sold it to me and my partner in a sale that was completely under the jurisdiction of the British High Court? Nevertheless, for the first couple of months after we purchased it, rumours were being spread that we didn’t own the name Team Lotus. This was obviously a concern to Group Lotus and a potential nuisance to us and Group therefore decided to clarify the issue by writing to us and apparently everybody else they could think of who might have had some interest in the Team Lotus property, including the Chapman family and Peter Collins. They asked anyone who thought they had an ownership claim to set it out in writing. The only respondents were us, and our lawyers set out the rights we had acquired in full to Group Lotus. Group then thanked us and gave everyone on the list a second chance to comment and then invited us to a meeting so that we could start working together – them as Group and us as Team, just as it had been in the Chapman and Collins eras before. At no point did Group say that they felt they themselves had any claim on any Team Lotus property, and as far as I’m aware from that date until the day after the Singapore Grand Prix this year they have never suggested that we did not own Team Lotus. So for Group now to claim that they’ve always owned Team Lotus is pure fantasy. Beyond that, we did two races at the end of 1994 – Japan and Australia – under our own ownership and control, so that part of the Group statement is completely untrue as well. We even gave Mika Salo his first F1 race, for Pete’s sake! The truth is that Group Lotus has never competed in F1, never built an F1 car and never owned Team Lotus. They’ve always been separate companies – as is common practice in F1, as well as being commonsense. Colin Chapman always wanted to protect Lotus Cars from the insurance and accident problems that can affect a race team and of course he was and is not alone in this respect.”

Windsor: “Correct. When I represented Carlos Reutemann in his negotiations with Colin Chapman in late 1978, none of the contracts were with Lotus Cars or Group. Anyway. What happened when Proton bought Group Lotus?”

Hunt: “That’s when things changed. When they bought Group Lotus in late 1996 a lot of Malaysian dignitaries flew over to see the new purchase at a launch event. They were taken completely by surprise when they learned that their new trophy asset did not include an F1 racing team. It’s a bit like the Americans thinking they’d bought Tower Bridge only to find the old London Bridge on their doorstep. It seems the Malaysians had been lacking in their due diligence. I flew out to KL to meet the Chairman of Proton and there I explained that we were keen to return Team Lotus to F1, referring to the detailed proposal I’d sent to the Malaysian Prime Minister around a year earlier for a project called ‘Malaysia Team Lotus’. The Chairman asked for a copy and asked for one to be sent to Group Lotus. I was happy to oblige. I left with the understanding that they were indeed interested and would discuss it at board level. That was the last friendly word I had with them. Thereafter they attacked our trademarks in the Trademark Court on numerous occasions, without any material success. They tried to force us to change our logo. They told us that the Group Lotus board’s considered view was that F1 is of no benefit to the Lotus brand. They put the Team Lotus history into their publicity material and website, pretending it was theirs. And they never challenged our ownership, privately, publicly or in court. Indeed, it’s interesting to note that, having never dared challenge us over ownership in 13 years, three days after control was seen to have passed to other Malaysian hands, they came out with that extraordinary press statement. Interesting timing! Let’s be clear: Group Lotus has never raced in F1, and, despite what it now claims on the freshly-applied murals on the Proton Building at Hethel, it has no F1 World Championships, Grand Prix wins, poles or even races contested in its history. Their claims are as ridiculous as if I had announced a new sports road car from Team Lotus which followed in the long tradition of Team Lotus road cars such as the Elan, Esprit, Europa etc. I would have been passing off; my claims would have been laughable and Team Lotus would have been demolished in court if it had dared defend litigation from Group. In my opinion that is what is likely to happen to Group in the litigation now underway in the British High Court. It is also my opinion that they know that as well as I do, which is why they have attacked now. I believe they are counting on it never reaching the court hearing and a ‘Malaysian settlement’ resolving ‘ownership’ of Team Lotus in their favour. Over the 16 years under my control for various reasons we’ve had numerous firms of lawyers go through Team Lotus’s legal rights with a fine toothcomb and none has deemed our rights to have been deficient in any way, at least until we came up against Tony’s lawyers. But that’s another story. My point is that in my view Group Lotus’s High Court litigation can only succeed if they can convince a judge that black is white or find some new legal doctrine that numerous lawyers had never thought of before. Group Lotus/Proton have had 13 years to do a deal with me – and in all that time they have been sitting on my Malaysia Team Lotus proposal and the current ‘1Malaysia’ approach looks remarkably like my original vision for them. But rather than working with Team Lotus as sister companies with overlapping interests and names because we were founded by the same man, as had been the historic tradition, they set out to damage or destroy Team Lotus in the hope, I imagine, that they could then grab the Team Lotus brand, logo, identity and history for their own use without having to pay for it – and in the hope that no one would notice. Now, having failed to stop me, and with Tony and his partners having proven the claims I have long been making – ie, that the F1 universe would welcome Team Lotus back to the starting grids and it is a very valuable brand – Proton and Group Lotus are acting like spoiled children and trying to steal the sweeties from Tony and his partners like playground bullies. They didn’t dare whilst I was holding the sweeties because they would have never won in the British courts and I am not subject to any political influence. Tony, and his partners (Din and Naza) and staff at Lotus Racing, don’t deserve to have the rights taken away from them.”

Windsor: “So where do you now stand with Tony Fernandes and his partners? What is the situation with them?”

Hunt: “When I was first approached by Tony in 2009 we agreed to give Proton first crack at doing a deal with me, but they blew it. They were shown respect, but did not reciprocate. So when I got into serious negotiations with Tony I think it is very revealing that Group Lotus/Proton then frantically tried to re-open negotiations on several occasions. Why would they do this if they believed we did not own anything? I told them they’d blown their chance; and, anyway, Tony had by then asked me not to re-open negotiations with them. He had given me his word that he would do a fair and reasonable deal with me and that he was not in F1 to rip anyone off; he knew he had to do a deal with me because we were the ones, not Group Lotus/Proton, who held the rights to return Team Lotus to Formula 1 and he acknowledged the huge efforts that I and many others had made over the years to keep Team Lotus alive and unsullied. So against that background, and Tony’s commitments, I told Proton they had missed their chance; in any event, they’d had 13 years to think about it and that seemed like a fair crack for them.”

Windsor: “So Proton did try to negotiate with you during that time?”

Hunt: “Yes, I exchanged similar undertakings with them at the outset but they had quickly amounted to nothing. That’s now at the root of the difficulties that currently lie between Tony and his partners and me: their lawyers have recently threatened legal action against me based on what appear to be nonsensical and unsupported allegations from third parties. I completely refute the allegations and will naturally defend them if they were to proceed. I’m sure it’s all a misunderstanding and will be cleared up quickly but I remain completely confused as to why it’s happened. I’ve been bending over backwards to support them in every area and to bring them significant sponsorship dollars, so I’m sure we’ll find it’s a simple case of crossed wires between client and lawyer or some other equally innocent explanation. I have stuck resolutely to what we agreed and have delivered on my side of the bargain, as Tony freely acknowledges and any journalist who has tried to interview me will attest. I dread the thought of more confrontation, nonsense and legal action, but I have invested 16 years of my life in ensuring that what is true and right and proper prevails. Before Singapore I was looking forward to putting that chapter behind me, but if I have to stand up and fight for honour and integrity and what’s right and proper then I shall do so again because that is so much more important than money or power.”

Windsor: “What do you think is going to happen with the current “Lotus Racing” F1 effort?”

Hunt: “It would be a disaster if Tony and his partners let it go. They’ve represented to the world, and given me assurances, that they’re totally serious and fully-committed to the Team Lotus brand. Tony has been a fan since childhood and this is a dream come true for him; all the rhetoric has been there and without it I wouldn’t have done business with them. Yet it appears they may be giving in at the very first hurdle, a threat they were well aware of at the outset and which came from people who were, at the outset, ostensibly on the same side as Tony! I certainly hope they don’t give in and I’m comforted that Tony has confirmed to me again over the past few days that they will fight it all the way in court. I would be both outraged and bitterly disappointed if Team Lotus were to be sequestered in some political backroom in Kuala Lumpur and pressures applied in commercial and/or political ways unrelated to F1. My view is that it’s really all about who is going to lose face – the Proton and Group Lotus bosses due to the wild and laughable claims they have made – or Tony and his partners for all their claims about being serious and committed to bringing the Team Lotus brand back and taking it back to its former glories. For either side, that’s a huge potential loss of face as I understand Malaysian culture. If Tony, Din and Naza were to roll over it would demonstrate to me that they have been acting in bad faith, with me and the fans and the F1 authorities who gave them their entry. It would also be a blot on my custodianship of Team Lotus as I will have sold it to people who were not passionate or serious or committed – something I have always been at pains to avoid. I’m also sure that Tony has not forgotten that he has a commitment to the staff in Norfolk. Many have had to re-locate and I am pretty sure almost every one of them went there because they believed they were part of a ‘Lotus F1 project’; they didn’t go there to work for Team Tune. And there’s also the fans, many of whom have been waiting 16 years for the return of Team Lotus. From the correspondence I receive I know the sick feeling in the stomach all true Lotus and Team Lotus fans the world over will get if it’s announced that Team Lotus is now under Proton’s control. I imagine that would be the final nail in the coffin for almost all true Lotus F1 fans.”

Windsor: “All very frustrating. Do you think there is any realistic way that this can be resolved?”

Hunt: “I would be quite happy to take back custodianship of Team Lotus and defend any actions brought by Group Lotus/ Proton. I have no fear of Group Lotus or Proton whatsoever and am entirely confident of the legal position. Tony could have a licence to race as Team Lotus. That would free him up to focus on delivering results on track and the fans would see the true DNA of Colin Chapman’s F1 legacy on the grid next year whilst I sort out the legal side. After all, I have 16 years of knowledge of Group Lotus/Proton’s actions and am therefore the best person to defend any claims they bring. We might even have an action or two we could bring against them!”

86 thoughts on “David Hunt talks about Team Lotus

  1. Here’s what Hunt should have done.

    1. Retained owvership of the IP
    2. Sold a 25 year license of £1m per year for Team Lotus to Fernandes, with the additional condition that Fernandes pays the legal fees of the high court action against Proton.
    3. Taken Proton on in the high court (with the fees already paid for.)
    4. A further condition that should Hunt win in court, then a joint venture company is set up between Hunt and Fernandes where the IP of Team Lotus is transferred to the new J.V. and also ownership of the F1 team to the J.V.
    5. That new J.V. then owns the F1 team and IP

    The result is that the IP is kept in the hand of ‘rightful owners’ and also that Hunt ends up with part ownership of an F1 team.

    For Hunt and Fernandes, this would represent a win/win.

    I can’t help feeling that Hunt has been duped by Fernandes and that he was blinded by the dollar signs!

  2. Joe,

    So reading between the lines David Hunt has signed some sort of letter of intent to sell team lotus ventures ltd and associated rights to Tony Fernandes, but the deal hasn’t actually closed, so he still currently owns it.

    Tony Fernandes is possibly now thinking of handing over the rights (immediately after he buys them) to Group Lotus, in return for continued use of the name. He might even be thinking of ‘flipping it’ handing it over in return for a lump of Malaysian government cash and using the Tune or Air Asia names.

    David Hunt is therefore getting less keen on the deal and now thinking of pulling out of the deal and Tony’s lawywers are putting pressure on because of the letter of intent.

    David Hunt doesn’t have enough cash to defend too many high court actions on his own.

    Is that about right?

  3. What a pity these guys in Malaysia cannot get their act together and work to get Team Lotus back to the grid in a dignified way – you almost wish they had not been granted a place on this year’s grid after all the mess they have made. Shame on them for being so stubborn and unreasonable. Hope David Hunt can have a say in all this and preserve the name of one of the most iconic F1 teams of all time.

  4. Absolutely fascinating, Joe.

    I’m of the mind that if Group Lotus does somehow wrench ‘Team Lotus’ from Tony then it would all simply backfire for them and any allegiance and goodwill that F1 fans had for the return of such an evocative name would simply become negative with the team just being viewed as a marketing entity basking in reflected (and undeserved) glory.

  5. I wonder if Hunt can back out of the deal at this late stage even if he really wanted to. I don’t know what kind of figures are invoved but surely Hunt can’t be getting any younger and could do with the nest egg. He does say that he wants the name to go to a worthy party but maybe he would just like to get rid of what must have felt like a bit of a mill stone round his neck over the years. He doesn’t say this of course but then it is a soft interview with one of his mates.

    Maybe I’m wrong about Hunt and he and Windsor, with all their combined knowledge of running successful F1 teams feel like having a crack at it themselves!

  6. The references to earlier talks with Proton/Group Lotus from David Hunt may indicate that he had signed some preliminary paperwork with Proton/Group Lotus which requires more effort to ‘get out of’ than he had thought – if so TF’s legal team may now have concerns about his ability to complete a deal to transfer ‘Team’ to them.

  7. Good on David Hunt!
    As a former employee of Lotus SW in the USA, way back in the Clark/Hill days, I applaud his efforts to retain and keep ownership of TEAM LOTUS.
    He should have said “retain and protect” below.

    “….happy to take back custodianship of Team Lotus….”

  8. If it is TF’s intention to sell on TL to GL then I would have thought DH has grounds to withdraw from the sale on the basis that TF has made such public protestations regarding his commitment to the Lotus name.

    But then I’m not a lawyer 🙂

  9. very interesting article indeed. makes me feel quite sick, but this is the result of our global sport. History has become highly valuable. It always has been, and indeed has been frequently used for purposes far worse than those of involved here, but it is still a shame!

  10. I’ve been reading all these Lotus blogs for the last few months, and while Fernandes does appear to be a good guy with all the proper passion for racing, etc., I still don’t quite understand how Fernandes’ position is somehow morally superior to that of Proton. All Fernandes did was buy the “brand” from a guy who had it stuck away in his lockbox for 16 years. Now, after many years of sitting on the fence, Proton essentially has decided to make a counter-offer. As I have said before, I don’t see either of them truly having a connection to the history and tradition of Lotus, anymore than VW did to the Buggati brand. Isn’t it all just business? Please enlighten me.

    1. Lon,

      Tony go there first… and he is by nature an enthusiast. Yes, he wants to make a buck, but he is a racer and that is why he is popular. People see Bahar as someone who is just in it for money and ego. W don’t see any passion for racing. And racing is all about the passion…

  11. I’m sure Tony can read between the lines. However, in the dark alley of Malaysian Politics, Tony is either with them or against them.

    Should he chooses to fight for Team Lotus, Tune group and Air Asia will hit major turbulence at home.

    He certainly has the tenacity. But political will?

    D Hon

  12. Read this on Peter Windsor’s blog the other day, very interesting stuff. Good of you to give it/him some deserved exposure Joe.

  13. Excellent read Joe, my thanks to both you and Peter Windsor for bringing it to us.

    I suppose the only bit that isn’t 100% clear is whether (a) David Hunt has already sold all the rights but is now offering to buy them back, or (b) it’s the letter of intent scenario that Chris D mentioned above and you seemed to “about” agree with. 🙂

  14. This is fascinating.

    Until now, I was under the impression that TF would do anything to keep the (Team) Lotus name, but David Hunt’s part about “If Tony, Din and Naza were to roll over it would demonstrate to me that they have been acting in bad faith […]” demonstrates that he doubts it. The political pressure in Malaysia must be huge and TF probably risks much if he doesn’t bow to the will of the Proton shareholders (which happen to be the government).

    By the way, I had asked a serious and well-informed automotive car industry blogger in Malaysia what he thought about the Lotus saga and you can find his response in the following blog entry. It is interesting as it sheds some light on the story from a Malaysian point of view.
    http://www.theautoindustrieblog.com/2010/10/tony-fernandes-and-lotus-v-proton.html

  15. Joe

    1 – hope David Hunt can afford good lawyers, otherwise his work will have end in a poor result;

    2 – I hope Tony Fernandes lives up to your high expectations of him – currently seems a little doubtful

    3 – can you do an “in-depth” interview of this kind with Peter Windsor on the USF1 farce? It would be great to get some in-depth analysis from someone who was part of the machinery.

    As an aside, if PW expects people to take his journalism seriously, perhaps he should really provide insight into the debacle; for me, until this happens, I will always have some scepticism about the veracity of his words…

    Sorry to be a cynic, but there it is…

    Enjoy Abu Dhabi and I hope that you get to see your friend crowned champion – but I suspect Alonso may just sneak by them all…

  16. My 2c:

    I really like to believe TF is actually passionate about building Team Lotus, and so far I think him and the organisation has done a superb job. The future is looking great.

    Let’s put a few pieces together…

    TF (+nasa and din) got the project off the ground initially with Malay Govt involvement, and these Malay govt affiliates, not least an ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia, also have heavy influence on Proton and therefore by extension Group Lotus. In a way that’s how they got the initial Lotus Racing Licence from Group.

    I remember from early media releases and interviews TF and Lotus Racing was very defiant on the Group vs Team Lotus separation like what DH was saying and rightly so I believe. I was hoping it would all work out and see Team back on the grid.

    Then after a few back and forth suddenly they came out with another piece that they will no longer comment on the subject and will defer to the powers that be (I’m vaguely pointing at the direction of the same ex-PM).

    All is quiet now and we are suspecting TF and co are going to roll over.

    I don’t know about you guys but to me this saga boils down to this:

    I believe DH is right and if fought in a proper court of law Group is going to lose.

    BUT……

    TF’s main cash generating business is AirAsia and an airline in a developing nation always needs the support of its govt. He CANNOT afford to get on the wrong side of the Malay Govt (or its influential people).

    Group Lotus management suddenly grew 2 extra braincells and got greedy, wants to become Ferrari and build bloated roadcars and decided they wanted control of F1 team as well. Its Brand brand brand and marketing time. Just another corporation doing what a corporation does.

    Ergo – the same influential people that help kicked it off are now leaning on TF. (or threatening to, or even having the ability to do so will amount to the same pressure in a region where business and politics are so imbreeded ). I can think of a million things how AirAsia can get skewered by a unfriendly home govt.

    TF is between a rock and a hard place and I hate to be him right now. It’s a no-win situation for him to stand his ground.

    His best and only alternative is to hope for the best and if its all going to hell for him anyway the smart thing to do would be to try and minimise the financial damage to his Lotus Racing investment and his Airline business.

    Sadly someone is going to lose and as usual, the person with the least cash and influence is going to get shafted.

    Not trying to make an excuse for TF, but I suspect he doesn’t like the situation anymore than DH at the moment but he is not even in the postion to be able to speak out without massive repercussions. You can’t blame someone for trying to do his best salvaging the situation.

  17. Great stuff as ever joe. Sounds like fernandes is in an invidious position, I still hope that he can cling onto the team lotus rights . A question to stephen r (or indeed peter w!) you mentioned you read this on windsors blog-what is the link for that? Googled but can’t find it, would be interested to have a read. Thanks!,

    Ben

  18. Joe,

    Ask Mr. E: it’s all about money, not sport. I read about Bahar’s plans for Lotus road cars and I while I’m not in the car business, I just don’t see how all those new cars will sell. I’m guessing Bahar believes he needs Lotus in F1 and other racing series to sell the merchandise and it seems he has lots of cash ( for now), so he will probably win. It’s too bad, but not unexpected.

  19. Fascinating. In Malaysia there is more to it than ‘face.’ Malays are vengeful, and TF is wise to consider his future in light of it. However, he is obviously a good guy with the right stuff. Why do Danny Bahar and the Proton people think that anyone will be interested in their team even if they do succeed? What is attractive about them? As Bill Kicks said, they are ‘like a turd in my drink.’

  20. Another great write up Joe, thanks for this one.

    On a side note, as things continue I seem to find myself hoping that David Hunt keeps the Team Lotus name out of F1 and carries on as the custodian of the name.

  21. Correct me if I’m wrong but Group Lotus isn’t out to get the “Team Lotus” name. They’re out to prevent anyone else from using the Lotus brand on cars and in F1.

    As long as Group Lotus can prevent Tony Fernandez (and anyone else aside from themselves) from using the word “Lotus” in motorsport, they won’t care if the “Team Lotus” name reverts back to David Hunt.

    This way, Group Lotus can say that they are the one and only existing Lotus team and claim the heritage of Team Lotus and Collin Chapman as their own.

  22. Seeing Peter Windsor’s by-line made me wonder if he is back in the good graces of the sport. This assumes he was ever out, but the USF1 debacle did not aid his reputation in the US. That was a shame, because his writing and commentary (for F1 Magazine, and Speed) were insightful and entertaining.

  23. This is highly annoying and there is indeed a danger that a new team possibly arising from this would not get any sympathy from me at all.

  24. You have to wonder who Team Proton thinks will support them if they trade as Lotus Renault or whatever it is next year.

    Current Lotus Racing fans will either stay loyal to Tony and Mike or give up on the sport — those who enjoy sticking up for the overdog will stick with Ferrari — there are only a few dozen French motor racing fans left, and they won’t be enthused by an English team owned by Malaysian and Gulf petrobarons and run by a Swiss. I guess Poles will continue to support Robert Kubica, but it’s a pretty flimsy framework to hang the New Ferrari ™ on.

    By the way, to muddy the waters further, Dieter Rencken now brings a whole new layer of complexity in suggesting that Tony Fernandes is being given a chunk of Proton in exchange for handing over the Team Lotus name. What that means for the Hingham team I have no idea.

  25. To me, neither of these outfits have much connection with the firm who built my Elan Sprint in 1971 (complete with the World Champion Car Constructors badge).

    BTW – re. DH’s comment about London Bridge…

    MAY 6, 1983: Grelle White talks to Ivan Luckin about his money-spinning ways with old City bridges. There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the Americans thought they were getting Tower Bridge when they bought London Bridge! The nagging suspicion was firmly quashed when we visited the man who sold London Bridge, Mr Ivan Luckin, at his Chorleywood home.

    “Of course not” thundered Mr Luckin with the sort of authority you expect in a City man.

  26. IMHO David Hunt did NOT buy Team Lotus, he bought “Lotus Grand prix Engineering Ltd “, however he thought he was buying “Team Lotus”, which of course he was, he bought “The Team” but the Chapman family and Lotus Cars (Group) or even the liquidator (who has now disappeared) did not tell him that “Team Lotus” was not included in the sale. Even now (see companies house) The Chapman family own Team Lotus Ltd and all that goes with it. Mr Hunt was, er……duped!

    So in reality he is right in saying “I have not lied”, he just did not realise what he had bought!..S***T happens!

    Let the real Lotus role and lets forget the other lot who quite frankly have really given the brand a move forward and Mr Fernades should be paid zillions for doing so.

    Z155

  27. … They put the Team Lotus history into their publicity material and website, pretending it was theirs. And they never challenged our ownership, privately, publicly or in court. Indeed, it’s interesting to note that, having never dared challenge us over ownership in 13 years, three days after control was seen to have passed to other Malaysian hands, they came out with that extraordinary press statement. Interesting timing! Let’s be clear: Group Lotus has never raced in F1, and, despite what it now claims on the freshly-applied murals on the Proton Building at Hethel, it has no F1 World Championships, Grand Prix wins, poles or even races contested in its history.

    what i don’t get is, why didn’t DH sue GL/Proton in the 13 years that they have been using the Team Lotus name in their publicity materials?

    IMHO, TF will fight the case all the way through. he’s been fighting from day 1 he launched air asia – with M’sian & S’pore govts (over landing rights, airport locations), with M’sian airlines (over air routes).

    having said that, i can totally understand DH and some of the other readers concerns that TF may roll over to protect his business interests.

    from the looks of it, GL/Proton PR machinery is working overtime with the Chapmans, Nigel Mansell and Renault publicly voicing their support for them.

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