Where’s the black cap?

At the start of 2010 Tony Fernandes set out to change minds. He wanted to do the job properly and to have his Lotus F1 respected as a racing organisation, not as a branding exercise. The Lotus brand had no intrinsic value to Fernandes. He recognised that there was potential there to do something and perhaps had ambitions of one day taking over the company, but his main businesses were AirAsia and the Tune Group, both of which were aimed at the lower end of the market, rather than providing flashy sports cars for the Malaysian middle classes. He came to the idea when former Lotus F1 engineer Nino Judge of Litespeed announced plans to enter a new Lotus F1 team in F1, in league with Mike Gascoyne, the former technical director at Toyota F1. Judge approached Fernandes, who was sponsoring Williams F1, with the idea and Fernandes liked it. He put together the funding needed, negotiated a deal to use the Lotus name in F1, used the yellow and green colours of the original team, used the Lotus designation T127 and even tried to buy the old Lotus headquarters at Ketteringham Hall. He also sought the blessing of the Chapman Family.

“I knew that bringing Lotus back to the grid would have an emotional pull for many fans who remember the likes of Jimmy Clark, Graham Hill, Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell and all those other great champions,” Fernandes said, “but I couldn’t have dreamt that we’d see the younger fans, whose parents may have talked about the old days, embrace us so quickly.“

He made no bones about the fact that his goal was to monetize the Lotus brand.

“It is one of the greatest racing brands and nothing invokes the same emotion except Ferrari,” he said. “A lot of people and corporations have approached us wanting to be part of this team.”

It was an incredible effort to get the team ready in time for the first Grand Prix in Bahrain but there Clive Chapman, Colin Chapman’s son, gave Fernandes his father’s famous black cap, which used to hurled into the air after each Lotus victory.

“What made the day for me was Clive Chapman coming to me and giving me his father’s black cap,” Fernandes said. “He said: ‘You are the man who is going to carry on my father’s tradition’.”

Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne agreed that the cap would act as an inspiration to everyone within the team.

“We are going to put (the cap) up on the pit wall for every race and when we next need it, it will go up in the air,” he said. “I thought that was a lovely touch. We’ll just have to make sure we need it soon.”

Former Lotus boss Peter Warr, who has since died, was also there and said that “I think when you look in the pits you see a professionalism and a standard of turn-out that makes you think they have been there three or four seasons already. I am absolutely sure Colin would have been proud of them.”

The fans agreed.

However, in Malaysia there were other agendas. Ferrari marketing man Dany Bahar talked Proton into appointing him head of Group Lotus in the summer of 2009. He too recognised the value of the Lotus brand and got the position by putting forward an impressive business plan that made the people at Proton sit up and take notice. But by the time Bahar was appointed chief executive of Lotus, Fernandes’s racing programme had been granted a Formula 1 entry. Bahar was simply too late. This did not deter him and he has since been trying to elbow Fernandes out of the way and claim the motorsport history of Team Lotus, which it seems he has no legal right to do. This has not deterred him. He has refused to do any deals with Fernandes and will not agree to a suitable compensation packages to solve the problem. The law has yet to decide who is right and who is wrong, but the signs do not look good for Group Lotus and if they lose the legal action, they can expect further legal action against them claiming damages. Proton is supporting Bahar because to fail to do so would be accepting that it was a mistake to appoint him. Pride is involved. The automotive industry does not seem to give Bahar much chance of pulling off all the stunts he is hoping to achieve. The proof of the pudding will be when it comes to selling cars – if indeed all his projects get that far. If that fails then Lotus will fall. The Malaysian government will be forced to pay the loans and very possibly Tony Fernandes will be in a position to pick up the ruins of Lotus and/or Proton and build a proper car company, based on sound business principles. He did this most successfully with the AirAsia airline after the Malaysian government messed that up.

The big question is really how much damage is done to Lotus along the way, and whether it remains a sensible brand in which to invest. Publicity like we have been seeing in recent weeks is not doing any good at all…

80 thoughts on “Where’s the black cap?

  1. Do we know when the High Court hearing is, and I guess, will the Malaysian groups respect and recognise that finding – or could they ignore it if it doesn’t go their way?

  2. some say that because its a Malaysian company run by proton, its not worth a bar, I say yes it is, bigger & better than ever, it makes no difference where lotus is from, its back & its heritage remains; Added to which we think Bruno Senna should be driving it, now that its competative, a flawless renault engine.

  3. Spot on Joe. Team Lotus have acted in a very dignified way throughout, while the “other” outfit have just barged their way into things.
    To see this new Lotus Renault GP painted in black and gold, when everyone in F1 knew Team Lotus were planning to use that livery, giving fans the chance to design and vote for it, is a blatant act of provocation and bully tactics – and if there is one thing most people will hate with a passion is bullies. Way to go Bahar – making very few friends already. No class whatsoever. I for one hope you sink like a stone and vanish from F1 very soon.

  4. Bahar and his friends have been very busy indeed, they’ve just anounced a number of big car business execs are joining including Kalbfell. Taking on Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mclaren et al. will take a big team and the money, it seems, is there…. It’s a bold move.

  5. I, for one, know for a fact that I won’t support a Group Lotus backed Lotus Formula 1 entry if they muscle Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus into a name change.

  6. I think we’ve seen too many of these radical business plans in the past, where someone comes in and promises the world, then fails to deliver, ruins the organisation and runs away. Simon Gillett did something similar with Donington Park.

    Unfortunately, while companies are run by people who can’t look past the shiny $ signs, it will always be this way.

    Quite honestly, I hope that Fernandes does get hold of Lotus because it really needs to be dragged forward. It can be so much more than it currently is, but it needs someone with vision, dedication and the ability to think longer term and be sensible with their goals. This is what Lotus deserves, if nothing else to ensure that Colin Chapman’s legacy lives on.

  7. To continue, and I hope, conclude, my Week Of Being Wrong:

    I paid the few quid to get recent copies.

    Ferandes was in nominal control of Team Lotus Ventures, the legal entity, in 2009.

    So, again, I ask, what was the game with Group?

    We do not know when that change precisely occurred, there is no reqirement to update the Registrar the day that happens.

    I only looked at the latest, because of the talk how deals were pending.

    Only thing is, there’s still a Form 395 charge over that company.

    David Hunt and Kenneth Wapshott own that call.

    GBP 199,000, no pennies.

    There is a technical requirement to disclose promptly when such a charge on a company changes, because it affects potential other creditors. But it is honest to God, ownership and control over anything the company does (as opposed to who owns the company)

    Nothing in the boiler plate which explains anything.

    For obvious reasons, I cannot reproduce the facsimilie, but it’s all yours for the the price a beer.

  8. There was a story, sometime aroud Sept/Oct this year, that Fernandes has lost the blessing from Chapman family. Is that true and why did that happen if it really did happen?

    1. ivan,

      I read the same stories but they are GMM so I treat them with a pinch of salt. I suspect that Clive Chapman has to be very careful to sit on the fence as his right to use the Classic Team Lotus name is probably granted by Group Lotus…

  9. Grrrrrrrrrr ! I’m furious !!!!! I’ve been following this as closely as I can thanks to your invaluable information / an aside with joe podcasts and the like, Joe, and all I hope Team Proton/Bahar fall flat on their faces !

  10. I wonder whether the FIA or FOM are going to take issue with this. It can’t be in the interest of either of them that someone’s taking the mickey out of F1 and its worldwide audience by having two Lotus-whatever-teams on the grid next year, confusing everyone but some die-hard F1 nerds about which Lotus is which, and which is “the real one”. And giving the explanation that it’s a brawl between two different malaysian business entities that just happens to be slung out in F1 is not going to win any sympathies for the F1 championship. Heck, if it’s that simple to jump on someone else’s train I think I should be buying HRT and simply calling the cars Ferraris and see where that gets me!

  11. Paul,

    “Do we know when the High Court hearing is . ..[?]”

    No,

    to complicate this, there exists some potential for litigation to involve parties we do not have commercial records for, or possibly, even names.

    Anyhow, since I need to make a day of this, for unconnected reasons, I will search the computer at court. I’ve never not been aware of any litgation which interested me, because, well I get told (!), but this is a trip to Fees in room EB01, pay a fiver (per Court, and this could turn up almost anywhere) and get my useless backside down to the relevant room.

    Phone calls to who has acess to the several thousand pound a month commercial legal wires have gone unanswered, lunchtime, and presently, well, i started work at 0400, and it’s 1330 now.

    I have commented to date with the assumption that this is one where everyone joins (sues) everyone, so therefore no news is no news.

    If i find anything out, no charge, I want to look into something else for personal reasons which is long overdue.

    There’s no saying it will not happen right after I check.

    The good news, is while litigation in London is cut – throat, and failure destitute for the ill – prepared, this is the place to settle scores, and likely venue.

    Consider my backside kicked,

    but that’s enough self – flagellation for one day 🙂

    – john

  12. This is all very very painful to me!

    Lotus was my team – and I have proudly owned and driven an Esprit Turbo in the past.
    Thnks to Joe I have followed and fully recognised the respect shown to the Lotus heritage by Tony Fernandes and his team.

    To make the history of F1 and the heritage of such a proud name made a laughing stock around the world is terrible and completely counter-productive.

  13. @Ivan & @Joe

    The source of the Clive Chapman has dropped support for Fernandes was also quoted to be from a Lotus Cars employee.

    Not that they have any interest in this matter… 😉

  14. “I read the same stories but they are GMM so I treat them with a pinch of salt.”

    GMM said Jean-Louis Moncet was the source for that info.
    He has a nicer looking blog than you, BTW… 😛

  15. Joe, do you know how Mr E feels about all this? Surely he sees it as bad for business and if I remember rightly doesn’t he have a healthy respect for Fernandes?

  16. August,

    good link.

    So, if TLV / Fernandes / whoever is actually behind the team we all seem to prefer, have a case, this goes multi – jurisdictional, and if it goes to trial over there, damages awarded by a jury.

    Since SBM, you can sue in the US, over trademark, even a non registerable one, if you are a foreign body.

    Normally this takes years. But there have been some very unusual and immediate actions by the US Customs lately.

    FWIW, New Coke wasn’t a utter failure. Just a PR disaster well expolited by Sculley. Check into that one day.

    good night all,

    – j

  17. Well, let’s take the positives from this – Renault get some good advertising for the chassis produced by the team they used to own…

    If GL want to be Lotus in F1 apply for the chassis name change, if not, go away and flog Lotus to Fernades who I’m sure could make it work and produce cars people want!

  18. I’ve just looked up the WHOIS info for lotusrenaultgp.com . This domain is already registered, by the RenaultF1 team, no smokescreen-in-the-middle-registrar. The date? October 18th, 2010.

    Another domain, lotusrenault.com, was registered on November 5th, 2010, by “Domains by Proxy, Inc.”, based in Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Neither of them show any content so far.

  19. Tell me, if I took on a loss making company, with a well established brand name and then decided to sponsor what appears to be every major racing series in the world, apart from NASCAR and I asked you to lend me $1Billion dollars to do it as well as launch 5 new cars that are all heavier and less efficient than my current range – would you lend me the money? Bahar was in fact the guy that ENCOURAGED Ferrari branded dressing gowns for crying out loud!!! Prostitution and drug dealing also make money, but hey!!!

  20. Where’s the black cap?

    Hopefully back at Classic Team Lotus in the hands of Clive, ready for the handover to those who can and will run the only genuine Lotus Entry. The factory. Group Lotus. Team Lotus.

    This squalid mess is all down to one person. David Hunt who only sought to make money out of nothing.

    He didn’t race, nor attempt to race, he squatted on a trademark bought at a knockdown price for his own ends. Team Lotus was nothing from the end of 1994. ‘Pacific’ was a sham, 10 minutes down the local vinyl shop to get some stickers and no better than all the other no hopers that littered the grid in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The absence from the entry sheets of TEAM LOTUS over the years tells you all you need to know about David Hunt.

    The same stickering exercise was in place this year. Lotus Racing wasn’t anything but a a cynical attempt to milk the Lotus brand and ensure an entry when the other lot over the pond imploded in a wave of self indulgent PR codswallop.

    It’s a great pity that Tony Fernandes was taken in by this near worthless trademark and bought the pup that David Hunt was selling. But the arrogance of Hunt and then Fernandes trying to steal the name of Lotus from under the nose of those that actively used it in racing for 30+ years beggars belief.

    I’ll not be rooting for any of them as Renault are permanently tainted by option 13 and crashgate but I’ll support Lotus and the Chapman legacy FOREVER regardless of it being run by a load of overseas money men. Unfortunately that means just the road cars for the foreseeable future.

  21. First of all, the balck cap is on the hands of Tony. And I think in this one year, I’ve learned to like this bloke, and it’s principles. Although he wants to make money, is going by the book. A smart and a cult business man, that’s rare.

    Now that the s*** is hitting the fan, I think is time that FIA should intervene, otherwise we will see a weird situation: two Lotuses, with the same colour scheme, the same engines, and with opposite objectives. We now know the impact of the name, one year after it’s announcement (it sounded like a sleepy giant), but Todt and Ecclestone must now think if they want to see this “odd couple” next March, in Bahrein.

    And as a Lotus fan, I’m starting to be fed up with this, specially with the bullyish tactis of Mr. Dany Bahar…

  22. In actual fact regarding the Lotus Renault GP colour scheme, this was mentioned when the initial rumour surfaced between Group Lotus and Renault. Tony Fernandez then came out with it several days later! Who’s taking the p1$$ now?

  23. ivan wrote: “There was a story, sometime aroud Sept/Oct this year, that Fernandes has lost the blessing from Chapman family. ”

    Coincidentally, it was in late September that news of Fernandes’ deal with David Hunt emerged.

    It’s worth reviewing the timeline. In September 2009, the 1Malaysia F1 team is announced, as a collaborative effort involving the government, private investors and Proton/Group Lotus. The new team has a three-year licence from Group Lotus to use the Lotus name. The Chapmans give the venture their blessing.

    In July 2010, Group Lotus apply for a trademark on “Team Lotus”. Hunt’s company follows up with similar applications in August. Then, in late September, Fernandes announces that he has reached an agreement with Hunt to use the Team Lotus name. Group Lotus are upset (they’ve been disputing Hunt’s rights to the Team Lotus name for years) and terminate the three-year licence deal they originally had with Fernandes.

    Fernandes’ PR skills rival Richard Branson’s but what if we put the opposite spin on it all? What if we say that Fernandes screwed Group Lotus by going behind their back to make a deal with David Hunt, who Group Lotus have been fighting with for years?

    In that context, would it make sense for the Chapman family to withdraw their support from Fernandes? I think it would.

    I personally think that all this talk about Colin Chapman’s legacy is complete and utter tosh. The original Team Lotus F1 team was sold following Chapman’s death. It then went bust and David Hunt bought it out of administration. There is no link with Chapman’s team, other than the name.

    Meanwhile, Lotus Cars has survived intact and continues to manufacture inexpensive, lightweight sports cars. To my mind, the car company has a far better claim to Chapman’s legacy and to the use of the Lotus name in F1.

    August brought up the Team Lotus trademark. Check out these judgments from the UK’s Intellectual Property Office regarding that trademark:

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o02610.pdf – In January 2010, Team Lotus Ventures Limited (David hunt’s company) consented to the revocation (requested by Group Lotus) of the trademark TEAM LOTUS for Class 41 (Sports entertainment services, motor racing, club services, hospitality, organisation of competitions and events.)

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o14703.pdf – This is a decision dating from May 2003 that restricts Team Lotus Ventures Limited’s TEAM LOTUS trademark scope to “Advertising services included in Class 35, all relating to Formula One motor racing.”

    Class 35 is: “Advertising; updating of advertising material; dissemination of advertising matter; provision and rental of advertising space; direct mall advertising; distribution of samples; marketing research; marketing studies; modelling for advertising or sales promotion; outdoor advertising; public relations; publication of publicity texts; sales promotion;statistical information, and publicity”.

  24. This is all very silly I mean neither of them are *really* Lotus.

    The black livery is a bit of a bad move and won’t endear them to true fans.

    Bahar is a marketing guy and is guessing probably correctly that many of his new customers for Lotus won’t know about this, F1 doesn’t really recieve as much coverage as say football/soccer in the UK where this would be on a national scandal scale.

    He cheapened the Ferrari brand beyond recognition with all its paraphenalia, with coloured shoes, shorts and as somebody above said dressing gowns, a laptop. And Ferrari World is probably another low point.

    Its really going to be marketing thing, after all look at Manchester City or even Chelsea, long gone are the teams of old but they haven’t lost support at all, gained it instead by winning alot. Same with Wayne Rooney, all forgotten now he has started scoring again…

  25. @LeighJW
    If you’re going to quote someone you might want to credit them. The way he put it was better anyway…

    Your post:
    Well that’s just typical. You wait 16 years for a Lotus in F1 and then two come along at once!

    MikeGascoyne’s twitter:
    Lotus, just like buses, you wait for ages and then 2 come along at once

  26. @Dodger.
    I agree with you.
    That’s how I saw it play out too, Fernandes going behind Group Lotus’ backs to aquire the Team Lotus name! It appears to me he became a thorn in the side, a loose cannon.
    I’m with Group Lotus all the way.

  27. Oh, Ho, Ho!

    Unless i am dreaming, i got one thing very right.

    We were slagging off Autosport (rightfully), but they may just have the money quote:

    “Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Proton advisor and former Prime Minister of Malaysia, said: “This is an exciting development which delivers strategic benefits to both Group Lotus and Proton. I fully support the partnership.””

    Hang on a moment! Wasn’t he Fernandes’ man yesterday?

    Something i said about triple agents . .

    There’s your black cap. On his head.

    Considering how much wool has been pulled over everyone’s eyes, i’m wondering how far i will search for alleged court cases.

    I don’t feel any better though. Just makes it a sorrier mess if i am even slightly right.

    Some publicity this. Everyone feeling they’ve been had.

    – j

  28. Dodger,

    The Fernandes + TLV news actually broke with form AP01 on 16/08/2010, when the registrar proessed the file. Just saying the wires were slow.

    Why were the wires slow?

    Because there’s no strict requirement to file documents on time, and some either accidental or deliberate finagling, you honestly cannot expect paperwork to run to a clock when there’s no actual strict requirement.

    If you really push Compliance at Companies House, you get the admission they are only a records house. Their prosecution department is amazingly limited to 4 cases a month. Which leads me to believe i might hold a record there in pushing a matter, but that’s ancient history.

    This is also the reason why we don’t know any deal times. By reading the records at least.

    Whilst directors records are for good reason submitted quickly, as directors only hold their enormous powers if on the record, members (shareholders, though not exclusively shareholders) need only be recorded once per year.

    In ’09, the bulk (98) of shares of Team Lotus Ventures (Hunt’s veicle for the Class 35) were held by Horwood Ltd, which is either a 2009 creation, or Bahamas company. There does ecist a Horwood Ltd, in the UK which never filed a thing. Maybe more misdirection.

    In ’10, the bulk (98 shares) of Team Lotus Ventures Limited is owned by Ryalls Lane Ltd.

    But we don’t get the information that Ryalls Lane Ltd’s sole director (therefore feudal Lord, so far as the real law is concerned) is Fernandes,until the 16th of August this year.

    That’s merely the first record of this year. Nothing on file as to beneficial owner, and again, no requirement for that to be lodged just yet.

    Absolutely anything could have happened in between.

    However, and this is a big however, we know Ryalls lane was 98 shares to the better in 09.

    And Ryalls Lane was incorporated 12 April 09.

    Funnily, it has never submitted a separate members list.

    They don’t really have to.

    Hunt and Lynton are on the original incorporation form for Ryalls Lane. Updates to that are asked for on an annual basis, so maybe they are, oops, Fernandes is”strictly speaking” 4 days late already.

    What’s interesting is there’s noted a Guarantee attached to their incorporation. Not normal, but i am sure without a shadow of doubt that i am missing something here. The only time i hear of guarantees being given is when a director has had a litany of statutory abuses behind them (and virtually everything in Companies Act has criminal sanction on summary hearing) and must make a promise to be good. That, however, used to be Form 12, which would show p like a sore thumb. Now i need to check what their records list actually means, so don’t jump to thinking anyone has been a bad boy.

    I’m only going to spend beer money chasing this further. Right now, it’s either cross reference all the high courts, or chase a possible Bahamas outfit.

    You’re a better editor than I, but apart from noting September for the story break, even hopless little me had all you just neatly concatenated on Nov 20th: https://joesaward.wordpress.com/2010/11/20/for-lotus-fans/

    Oh, Horwood Ltd, the UK registration, that is a enterprise of a gentleman by the same name, so he’s an innocent in this mess. So, Bahamas it is. Oh, wonderful.

    It took me far too long to pull those files. And i should not have been awake unless i forgot some domestic matters.

    Incidentally, why are you so certain anything was sold by the liquidator in ca. ’94? You got the fiche from the Insolvency office? Save me some bother anyhow.

    kind regards,

    – john

  29. Gah! I had to get one thing wrong:

    “And Ryalls Lane was incorporated 12 April 09.”

    That date is something else. Too many vitual pages for me just now.

    Ryalls’ Lane was incorporated 4th Dec 09.

    That’s why i started talking about “4 days late”.

    So, registered slap bang in the off – season. Make of that, and the rest, what you will.

    Still, it’s all rather convenient sounding.

    Or just another Red Herring.

    50:50. Your call. Six of one etc is getting tiresome, isn’t it?

  30. Maybe Dany Bahar was inspired by F1 itself.

    There are drivers in Red Bull-owned cars which look almost ike the Red Bull cars but are not RBR cars. There are silver cars with a Mercedes engine in the back, but they’re supposed to not be “The Silver Arrows”, and Mercedes doesn’t own anything of it anymore. Then you have cars which are meant to be “The Silver Arrows” but don’t look like Silver Arrows at all, more like a grey version of a BMW Sauber, because of the ugly-green Petronas branding which many people still associate with Sauber, but it’s a Mercedes-Benz. There are BMW Sauber cars, but they have a Ferrari engine, and BMW doesn’t own any of it anymore, and are (somehow) thought to have left the sport. What else? A Renault which isn’t owned by Renault anymore but somehow keeps its name, is built by the same people and still has Renault engines . And so on.

    I think we should spare a thought for the poor Mr. Ghosn who got a bit confused by all this brand malarkey. He thought it would be a good idea to a) sign a contract with the existing Lotus Racing team about engine supply so there’ll be a “Lotus-Renault” F1 team, and b) agree to GenII selling part of the Renault F1 team to GROUP Lotus so there’ll be another “Lotus-Renault” F1 team. Or he had some sort of a Groundhog Day-moment and thought “Wait – didn’t I do this already? Oh never mind, let’s get on with the daily chores and sign that piece of paper. If it was the right thing to do first time it can’t be that wrong now, can it?”

  31. Neil H,

    “Simon Gillett did something similar with Donington Park.”

    Simon Gillett, however, paid the price for his folly. That – by inverse logic – is what is so wrong with this story.

  32. If this is true, I can have a few beers after work tomorrow, courtesy of someone i am otherwise inclined not to like:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/9269031.stm

    where Bahar says he’s cool with two Lotus teams. From about 3:15. Also that the matter has been dealt with between the various shareholders, not him directly. I think he means Proton and Fernandes.

    But, this is released on some sites after hours, UK time, middle of the night for Malaysia. Either subtle news management, maybe randomness, maybe fast backtracking to today’s outpourings. BBC give no time of recording.

    If they all agreed to simply shut up and down swords, i’m fine. I’ll stick to saying there’s no legs in litigation. That’s a truism, no insight there. We can get a good giggle out of it every time some unsuspecting race viewer asks us, and leave it at that.

    Maybe the power of positive (when did this positivity start?) suggestion, put through the media, is all it takes. Local radio is nonetheless a pretty unusual channel for commercial comment on a potential 100 million pound dispute.

    I will not make the same mistake twice in 24 hours, and so wait on the morning for better coverage.

  33. Soeren,

    brand malarky?

    I don’t think Ghosen would stoop so low to call it that.

    No, i think they’s all just trying to avoid this fate:

    That’s dark, but i’m appreciating the comedy now.

    – j

  34. I know this is only a minor sideshow to the whole debacle, but I find the insistence of both parties on using the old John Players livery a bit weird.

    I mean, fans will associate it with Lotus sure enough, but they will also associate it with cigarettes – surely not what these companies want in current times?

    Come to that, is there any chance of whoever owns the JPS brand suing both Lotus Renaults? Surely they’re both passing themselves off as cigarette manufacturers. Make about as much sense as anything else that is going on…

  35. 4u1e,

    There is a thing in Hollywierd, called Performance Bonds.

    Someone puts a back-stop so the studio knows exactly the limit of what they spend.

    What do the bond guys get? Ownership, if it’s a red cent over budget.

    It’s like insurance Cat risk (after Lloyds of London wiped out a posh but negligent generation of socialite’s daddies), or credit default insurance of any kind.

    Reason why it took so long, for one example, for Ridley Scott to get that awful voiceover taken out.

    Why should F1, a high stakes game like movies, be any different?

    Phillip Morris is Ferrari’s Bond Guy.

  36. Leighjw,

    the tweeting, gah i hate this deliberately toungue in cheek form of communication, actually – this minute – looks like there is a negotiated stand down.

    Do not believe me, no, please don’t. But there is a drift, and a vast, screaming absense of decent reportage right now.

    And a few hints for anyone long in the tooth to believe no sources.

    Not betting anything until tomorrow. Maybe not then.

    – j

  37. Dear all

    John- I say this with respect, I find it incredibly difficult to follow your entries- it seems that you use phrases instead of sentences. I find this incredibly frustrating, as it seems to me that you have very interetsing angles on this issue and others, but, I’m rarely certain or clear on what you mean. Again, I stress, NO disrespect is intended.

    tHis Bahar guys just doesn’t make any sense to me.
    He is marketimg, not product driven, and yet, he risks doing Group Lotus a fair degree of damage here, (as if being owned by Proton isn’t bad enough), by being seen to be the bully boy.

    I wonder if his main motivation is ego (sort of an “i’ll show Ferrari” motivation), with which he seems to be well supplied, in inverse proprtion to judgment.

    If Ferrari dressing gowns is one of his “innovations”, how will he “whore down” Group Lotus?? Glow in the dark , “Lotus” branded condoms? I wonder when he’ll start flogging off replica Colin Chapman black caps?? Numbered, of course, 1-100, for the 2011 sales of Lotus, after he’s finished damaging what good will it has left.

    This guy will be lucky to be selling protons in Borneo by the time this s*#tfight is sorted.

    However, I wasn’t looking forward to the off season, it’s usually so boooorrriiinnnggg. Not this year.

    Thanks, Joe, for all the bloody hard work.
    Cheers
    MarkR

  38. Mark R Ryan wrote:
    >tHis Bahar guys just doesn’t make any sense to me.
    >He is marketimg, not product driven, and yet, he risks doing Group Lotus a
    >fair degree of damage here, (as if being owned by Proton isn’t bad
    >enough), by being seen to be the bully boy.

    Firstly, you don’t need someone to go into Lotus and tell them how to make good sports cars (i.e. product). Lotus already make good sports cars. Not only do they make sporty road cars that have a roof and space for the weekly shopping (the Evora is faster than the Lambourghini Gallardo, BMW Z4M, Porsche 911 Carrera/GT3 and the Aston Martin DB9), but they also make proper, serious, track-orientated (albeit road-legal) sports cars too (check out the 340R and the 2-Eleven).

    What they NEED is someone who can tell them how to sell those cars (i.e. marketing). That, one would imagine, is why they brought in Bahar.

    Secondly, the vast majority of people who have the spare disposable cash to spend on a Lotus aren’t going to be stupid enough to be fooled by all this anti-Bahar tosh.

    Only a lunatic could try to blame the murky situation with the rights to the Team Lotus trademark on him, given that the problem existed for about 20 years before he arrived at Lotus.

    You pick your average man in the street and explain to him that there are two Lotus F1 teams.

    One is owned by the company that makes the Lotus cars he sees on the roads every day.

    The other is owned by a Malaysian entrepreneur, who had temporarily licenced the Lotus name from the Lotus car company last year so he could exploit the original Lotus F1 team’s heritage, but has now bought the Team Lotus name from someone who’d bought it from the liquidators of the original Team Lotus which had been established as a separate legal entity from the car company in order to protect the car company from any litigation arising from motor racing accidents, then sold to some of its staff after Colin Chapman died, before eventually going bust.

    It doesn’t matter whether Fernandes and Gascoyne have done a good job this past year or not (I happen to think they’ve done an excellent job, as it happens) – the guy in the street, if asked which is the “true” Lotus F1 team, is going to pick the one owned by the same mob who build Lotus cars. Simples!

  39. Hang on a minute:

    Dodger wrote:

    http://www.ipo.gov.uk/types/tm/t-os/t-find/t-challenge-decision-results/o02610.pdf – In January 2010, Team Lotus Ventures Limited (David hunt’s company) consented to the revocation (requested by Group Lotus) of the trademark TEAM LOTUS for Class 41 (Sports entertainment services, motor racing, club services, hospitality, organisation of competitions and events.)

    Well surely that’s it then? It’s all over, isn’t it, before it even began. In which case why have we all been getting our metaphorical knickers in a twist for the last three months?

    Surely Group’s lawyers are actually (legally) in the right then, and there’s no way that Team Lotus’ High Court action can win. Or have I missed something?

  40. Joe – What moral issues? (And, tongue in cheek, let’s not forget that we’re talking about Formula One here!) 🙂

    Ambient Sheep – You will note that the outcome of the second judgment is that Team Lotus Ventures Limited (David Hunt’s company) retained the right to use the “TEAM LOTUS” trademark for advertising services relating to F1. Given that an F1 car is essentially a driving advertising billboard, that would appear to be the basis on which Fernandes is looking to use the Team Lotus name next season.

    In any case, failing an outbreak of common sense, I expect that the High Court will settle the matter one way or t’other.

  41. It is ironic that the Lotus Racing website still shows Proton as one of its partners.

    Great post Joe, as usual.

    I used to work at Lotus in Engineering and though there was a lot of cross fertilisation between Team and Cars when Chapman was alive and for a period afterwards when Tony Rudd was in charge, it ceased when the team was sold. Team was never part of Group Lotus, always being kept separated from the other companies, for financial and insurance purposes.

    Dodger, you said

    “Lotus already make good sports cars. Not only do they make sporty road cars that have a roof and space for the weekly shopping (the Evora is faster than the Lambourghini Gallardo, BMW Z4M, Porsche 911 Carrera/GT3 and the Aston Martin DB9)”

    What you didn’t say is that the Evora smells of glue and bits fall off it. Lotus quality is no where near that of the cars you compared it to.

    Bahars attempt to take the company further up market will fail, particularly as he is talking about outsourcing manufacture to Eastern Europe or Asia. He will probably bring the company to financial ruin in the process, completing the damage that Proton has already caused to a great marque.

  42. Ambient Sheep, Dodger: specifically, Group applied to revoke Team’s trademark as applied to sporting hospitality on the grounds that it hadn’t been used for that purpose for five years. Team originally lodged a protest but withdrew it, presumably because they couldn’t provide any evidence that it had been used in the appropriate time-frame.

    TL still have numerous other trademark registrations, and Group have been unsuccessful in trying to have them revoked. However, not being able to protect use of the Team Lotus name in hospitality could be an issue.

    There may be a very good reason for the Team Lotus logo’d AirAsia plane – it’s a mode of transportation and might count as a suitable use of the Team Lotus logos to defend that trademark!

  43. I see the cover of today’s Autosport has the headline “The Real Lotus is Back” referring to the Group Lotus/Renault (as in Enstone).

    I am incensed for several reasons. One, this magazine has taken sides, so much for impartial journalism. The Editor, when questioned about this headline replied. “Tony Fernandez’s Lotus is/was a cynical attempt to generate publicity and sponsorship”, again not a great example of impartial journalism.

    Two, it infers that Fernandes (correct spelling) Lotus was fake, as Mr. Vandeburgt expressed above.

    I can definitely live without Autosport now.

  44. lets be straight, TF used the Lotus name to get sponsors and to get on teh grid. but he at least acted with a little dignity.

    bahar saw that team lotus gained popularity and suddenly wanted in, being a marketer, to promote lotus cars. well of course the easiest way would have been to buy out team lotus but he thinks they have the name on a loan and are not entitled to use it, so rather than try to come to some sort of arrangement, he persuades proton to buy into the renault F1 team and get lotus in that way and bully fernandes off the Lotus name.

    and it might work. however, the damage to the lotus brand from this move will likely be greater than any positive effects on group lotus – how will they become a genuine competitor to porsche and ferrari, as bahar wants to be, simply by funding someone elses team. it’s a joke, as with most marketing exercises, totally without substance. but he’s managed to convince proton to keep funding his fancies, and i’m sure when it all falls down around his feet he’ll still get a generous pay-out. i’d be more unhappy if i were a malysian tax payer.

  45. Dear All

    Dodger- i remain unconvinced re Bahar’s marketing skills.
    Flogging Ferrari’s isn’t quite hocking bacon sandwiches at a Bar Mitzvah, is it?
    Moving Lotus metal is a bit different, as evidenced by 2400 units a year. ( I am in No way implying that the cars are substandard here).
    The new Elite- over twice the price of the next dearest model, not many of the current 2400 are going to “graduate in an upward direction” are they??
    And, though the styling is done, (and, it looks pretty), and the motor is a tarted up Lexus unit, it won’t be ready till 2014….??
    They are supposedly designing and building an Indycar engine- yet, they can’t get that together for any of their road cars?
    They are loss making, and yet, approach Indy from the most expensive end, when they could get more publicity, cheaper, by developing an aero kit for the standard Indy tub.
    Likewise, they could have had a free ride on the Fernandes car, or comparatively so. And, your “guy in the street” would just associate Team Lotus with Group Lotus.
    But, hey, why not p*ss more money away, after all, Group Lotus has gone 15 years without black ink, let’s stick with the tradition, buy a chunk of Renault, then, a bit of loose change for the silks to try to wrest the name Team Lotus (powered by Renault) from Fernandes, to use as (if successful, Team Lotus Reanult.
    As I said, he doesn’t add up.
    And, what happens if Group Lotus lose out in court….?
    They’ll have a stake in an F1 team with no promotional value to Group Lotus, still get “guy in the street” exposure, at bugger all cost, via Team Lotus, and, have spent zillions to fail to achieve what could have been achieved without lifting a finger or spending a cent.

    Good thing for Mr Bahar that taxpayers aren’t shareholders, eh?
    Cheers
    MarkR

  46. I’m wondering how this will affect the “Legacy” pay outs from FOM?

    They accepted Lotus Racing (as opposed to Team Lotus) as being a continuation of the previous Lotus incarnation (i.e. Team Lotus) in F1.

    Now Lotus Racing has become Team Lotus one assumes that will continue, where as if Lotus Renault GP eventually just becomes Lotus GP (in the next concorde agreement), it will not been entitled to any of this legacy bonus money. Or can they piggy back on the successes of Toleman/Benetton/Renault (even after the delayed name change)?

    And if they do have to start from scratch in this regard why was Lotus Racing in 2010 welcomed as a successor to the original outfit? Or have I got this all wrong????

    Joe – Do you think all four cars will be allowed to run as some form of Lotus next year or will the FIA/FOM have something to say about that?

    I think if they are all to compete then there will need to be some agreements put in place by representatives from both organisations. I would for instance recommend a contract that gives the other entity first refusal on purchase at the going rate if the other becomes available for sale at any point………..

    I think its odd that when all of Group Lotus’ racing programmes are thus far run in Green and Yellow that they would have the F1 programme in the JPS colours, especially if Team Lotus end up racing in these colours anyway, though I guess it is for showing up the sponsors logos more prominently.

    I have enjoyed supporting Team Lotus this year however I was also a fan of the direction the road car business is taking as it may secure its future. I also understand why they would want to secure some control over the brand in F1. What a complete mess all round, don’t know what to think now……….

  47. One thing I noticed in the GL press release

    http://www.lotuscars.com/news/en/lotus-renaultgp

    is

    “Proton, Lotus majority shareholder”

    I thought they were outright owners, buying a majority for the initial takeover from Artioli in 1996, and picked up the rest soon after.

    Is it possible Genii have swapped Renault F1 shares for GL shares? There’s a lot of puff about “Genii is also offering Proton the ability to leverage on its existing business relationships ” etc, which might be consistent with part ownership of GL.

    Probably I’m barking up the wrong tree.

  48. I’ve decided after long consideration that this is a good thing. I was starting to fall for the Team Lotus thing and this has shown it all up for the artificial construct it is.

    Lotus is gone.

    BRM is gone, Vanwall is gone. Brabham and Tyrrell are gone. McLaren would be gone but for Project Four and Ferrari would be gone but for FIAT.

    New teams build new dreams.

    Racing cars are about going forwards.

  49. MarkR,

    I agree with you about Bahars marketing skills, I mean Ferrari Teddy bears and slippers! How to devalue a brand in one easy lesson.

    I see today he is thinking of buying Renault F1 outright in the long run……where is the money for this coming from?

    Lotus is not selling cars at the moment and is laying production staff off, so how the hell is he going to make his grand plan work?

    He has said he is going to build extensions to the current factory, upgrade the test track to FIA grade 2 and introduce 5 new models.

    Then there are his motorsport aspirations away from F1, a GT campaign with the Evora, and an LMP2 car, this despite the company having NO experience in carbon fibre chassis design, NO facilities for manufacture and NO wind tunnel!!!

    All of the above needs money, which the company currently does not generate, so it is just going to be more debt guaranteed by the Malaysian government. Sooner or later the emporers new clothes are going to be seen for what they are.

  50. Mark R – Good points, well made.

    However, whether you (or, indeed, I) are convinced of Bahar’s marketing skills is irrelevant. His Proton bosses obviously are! They wouldn’t have hired him if they didn’t want him to follow the same route as Red Bull and Ferrari have done, in terms of exploiting F1 to promote the brand.

    So, to my mind, it’s a little bit silly to criticise Bahar for deciding to plunge into F1. It’s like criticising a duck for quacking – that’s what ducks do!

    If you’re going to base your entire strategy on F1, it makes sense to have control over it (I doubt Fernandes would have sold his team) and, as Bahar alluded to, it makes sense to start as far up the grid as possible.

    Lotus Engineering have actually helped develop engines for GM and Proton, so they’re not entirely new to the engine game.

    I don’t think that losing in court would render them unable to use the Lotus name in F1.

  51. I always thought that the Lotus brand was underused and undervalued. Furthermore, given the very limited and competitive sports car market, the cars have not sold relatively well to a global scale.

    It makes a lot more sense to sell to a private equity firm that can properly engineer the balance sheet and maximise brand value in parallel. There are many ways to do that and, hence, increase the company’s valuation substantially before exiting. It strikes me that this is what they are trying to do now, by hiring a marketing man to increase brand awareness and, therefore, value and boast very publicly ambitious business plans (ergo, revenue forecasts) to lure in the buyers. Given their recent sales, they can’t afford to sell on industry-comparable earnings multiples.

    This needn’t be a bad thing; if done properly we may see Lotus in the mainstream again. But it will be very hard and may well backfire. Nonetheless, a very interesting story to follow.

  52. Mark R Ryan,

    Hi,

    “John- I say this with respect, I find it incredibly difficult to follow your entries- it seems that you use phrases instead of sentences. I find this incredibly frustrating, as it seems to me that you have very interetsing angles on this issue and others, but, I’m rarely certain or clear on what you mean. Again, I stress, NO disrespect is intended.”

    No problem. I realize this is the problem with making comments directly about newfound “evidence”, which amounts to supposition.

    I have this “short-hand” style precisely when i am unsure. Which professionally is all the time.

    I’m pretty sure now there’s no active litigation.

    It’s very damn hard to make any editorial out of litigation when you can’t even trace who the actors are. That’s why this has not been breaking news. My guess is that the parties themselves don’t know who is suing who, or for why, or even know what suing means. Just a hunch.

    Generally, it’s impossible to hold hypothetical discussions like this. Nothing to go on.

    I don’t think i’ve got any angles, save this is bunkum, and a lot of opportunists none of whom can afford to argue in court. The rest is redux, and i’d not like my opinion in there.

    Sorry to confuse you, that’s totally not meant. I have my own strong views at least on business and F1, separately usually, and so i hear where you are coming from.

    But, hey, i’ve been unravelling silly cases for a long time, and I often get lost. Failure to re-think deals defeat. So I’ve thrown some things in there in desperation for human comment, tired of this.

    Looks like my writing style hasn’t changed much, dear me, but the long hand would be ridiculous for Joe to post. I could have started with just one essay, a few K words, and been done. That would have been less penetrable, but equally as accurate.

    I feel the vultures circling around Bernie’s putative body.

    Bring back Turbos! Yup, bring back the scheisters from then also.

    all best and kind regards,

    – john

  53. Peter,

    I didn’t say as much, because i has a bad call week. Not hindsight, just watching timing. See “we were slagging off Autosport (rightfully)” – ’twas my hint)

    Autosport were fed.

    End of story.

    But they called Gascoine’s bluff, re the livery poll. Or bluff and double. Sportsmen might understand practical law better than you and I. MS did. . .

    Really, it was rather transparent, and sad.

    I’m still backing Fernandes to win, but this is God – awful for fans.

    Would you want to drive for Lotus-Renault?

    They’re even bullying their Russian money – supply.

    Oh, sod sponsors now, who needs them?

    -j

  54. @billy

    You wrote:

    @Peter
    You do not appear concerned regarding Mr Sawards biased journalism?

    The difference is when Joe is making comment or opinion, it is just that and I can take it or leave it, agree or disagree. What I have never seen Joe do is represent opinion as fact. I am not an expert on journalism but I interpret the Autosport articles as doing just that.

  55. If by Black Cap, you mean support of the Chapman family, then as of today, Danny Bahar and Group Lotus have it. I was very surprised to hear this yesterday.
    I’d love to get the inside scoop on what went on before that press release.

    JOS

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