More Lotus bullsh*t…

Lotus Renault GP chairman Gérard Lopez says that there is only one Lotus car company, telling a number of British journalists that Tony Fernandes is trying to twist the real story. He said “You’ve got to call a spade a spade”. Lopez claims that it is “bullsh*t” to suggest that there are two car companies.

Well, let us look at the facts, shall we? And then designate spade status and decide who is talking bullsh*t at the end of the discussion.

It is a fact that there is only one Lotus road car company. It is called Group Lotus PLC, although it is not actually a PLC, as it has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd (Proton), Malaysia’s national car company, since 2002.

Tony Fernandes does not run a car company – at least not at the moment.

Fernandes does, however, own the right to use the Team Lotus name, which he bought from David Hunt last autumn. Prior to that he had bought the right to use the “Lotus Racing” name from Group Lotus PLC for a five year period.

Group Lotus revoked that licence last year, claiming that Fernandes was breaching the agreement. That revocation has yet to be examined in a court of law.

Group Lotus’s chief executive Dany Bahar told the BBC that “when I arrived with a new management team, we had our own ideas and plans and that is nobody’s fault, not the shareholders and not Mr Fernandes. We have a crystal clear vision of where we want to go in future”. This clearly implies that Fernandes had not done anything wrong, but rather had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and was simply in Bahar’s way as he wanted to do the same thing as Fernandes was doing – as he has subsequently proved by becoming the title sponsor of the Renault team and changing the team name to Lotus Renault GP, in the hope that this will convince people to call the cars Lotuses, rather than Renaults, which is what they are on the official FIA entry list.

The fact that Group Lotus declared the licence deal to be finished does not mean that it was a correct thing to do, nor that Fernandes does not have a right to compensation. Bahar likened the relationship with Fernandes as being like a failed marriage. A contract is broken (by agreement) and suitable alimony is paid. It is for a court of law to decide the rights and the wrongs of that situation.

Fernandes says that he has a right to run a Formula 1 team called Team Lotus. As one can see by looking at Companies House, there is a team called Lotus Renault GP Ltd, which is apparently owned by Lopez’s GenII company from Luxembourg, but runs cars called Renaults, and there is another team called Team Lotus Ventures Ltd which operates from an address in Hingham, Norfolk, which runs cars called Lotuses. The latter is run by Fernandes, David Hunt’s having ceased to be a director of the company back in September. Team Lotus Ventures is the descendant of the Team Lotus that was sold by the Chapman Family to Peter Wright and Peter Collins in 1990 for $6 million. The family today claims that it does not want the Team Lotus name to continue, but that argument has no substance given that they sold the name 20 years ago. If they wanted to kill the Team Lotus name they could have done so then. Instead they took the money.

Thus there are two teams in F1 today claiming to be allowed to use the Lotus name. Both have some logic to their arguments.

Lopez claims that all Fernandes wants is money and that this was proved during negotiations about a settlement. Those discussions took place during the Abu Dhabi GP weekend last year and they were not about how Group Lotus might work with Lotus Racing, but rather about what it would take to get rid of Tony Fernandes. He did not want to give up on his project – and ultimately decided not to. There were discussions about money but, quite rightly, Fernandes was only interested in a deal that would give him back what he had put into his project. There was no reason for him to accept making a financial loss because Group Lotus had changed its mind.

It really does not matter about who is passionate and who is not passionate about F1. Lopez says that he liked Lotus as a kid. Fernandes says much the same.

So did half the world…

Fernandes posted a comment on this blog this morning which explians his motivation. It makes sense.

“All we were doing is bringing Lotus from the dead as many has asked us,” he wrote. “There are many of our employees who worked in original Lotus. The link with Norfolk is there. We have built everything from scratch with our own money. I grew up watching Williams and Lotus, camping at Brands. We have invested £80 million into Lotus and as the years unfold you will see our strategy. You sell something and hence you own it. You spend £80 million pounds to build it. You build something of value, now everyone wants it.

“I’m sorry. This is something we built with lots of money, great people, great spirit and hard work and, most importantly, honesty. I am damned proud of what we have achieved in one year. We didn’t borrow money to buy a team, we built the team from scratch. There is a separation between Group Lotus and Team Lotus. I didn’t create it. We own it and we are proud if it.”

When all is said and done, there are lawyers working flat out to build cases which will be discussed when the trial begins in March. Both sides have a great deal to lose. It will down to the judge to decide who is right and who is wrong.

He will be the one calling a spade a spade.

He will decide what is “bullsh*t” and what is not…

86 thoughts on “More Lotus bullsh*t…

  1. Joe, broadly I agree with the thrust of your argument. Ultimately this is a matter for the courts.

    If both parties could just shut up about it until the issue is settled in court, so much the better…

  2. Thanks for getting this out Joe. Shows all people speaking where the arguments ly. Sure this is about money, Fernandez would be crazy to give for free, what he bought of David Hunt as well as all he has built up with the whole team without at least getting the satisfaction to have made a good deal out of it, allowing that money to build the team up furter.

    I do get the idea of what Bahar wants, although I never understood why he does not want Fernandez doing the dirty work for him in F1.
    But i do think his ideas are pretty much in danger of bringing Lotus cars close to the fate of DeLorean. But that is a different story.

    1. BasCB,

      I think that this is the most important question in the whole case. Why does Bahar want to be in F1 directly as a team owner? It makes no sense at all given the Group Lotus policy with all other other motorsport – and the trouble it has caused. If I was a Proton shareholder I might be forgiven for wondering whether it would be better for Bahar to concentrate on the miracles he will need to make his plans come true. However, I am not stupid enough to be a Proton shareholder… Maybe I will do that if Tony Fernandes ever wins control of the business… He has a good track record as a businessman.

  3. Group lotus have the most to lose i would think.
    Didn’t Sir Frank Williams attend the launch of the Lotus car
    last year? It seemed odd to me, but nice. Was that due to the Air Asia link?

  4. Let’s not be be naive, Lopez is correct in his statement, this is about the money. Have you seen Tony’s tweets Joe? It’s embarrassing behaviour for someone in position. The guy is in the wrong and he is going to find out the hard way in court it seems.

    1. kirk,

      Are you a High Court judge? Well, then your opinion is worth about the same as Lopez’s, Fernandes’s, Bahar’s and mine.
      Very little…

  5. Great article, I think Mr. Bahar didn’t think things through and put himself and Proton in a very difficult situation. I believe it is also not the first time he took a controversial decision.

  6. most likely courts will ask Tony to change his team name & ask lotus to compensate any financial loss due to that. i don’t think Tony has any interest in promoting Lotus for free.

    neither of them are real lotus, even kids are not so gullible to believe either sides story.

  7. Of course Fernandes’ ask for a lot of money could have been because he didn’t want to sell. Nothing new about that tactic. Also this may have been because he didn’t like the conditions given to him by Group Lotus.

  8. I personally believe that Mr Kubica’s comment put everything in place.

    Mr Bahar has come in late – discontinued something set for 5 years over a T-shirt? Smell something wrong there??

    Mr Fernandes at least LIKES the old team!

  9. Hear hear. Now the cars are out and running, lets just hope that renaults are called renaults, Teams Lotus is called Team Lotus, and we can wait until March to hear from the judge. Danny Bahar is becoming ever increasingly irritating, a waste of time and column inches, in my opinion. To be honest, the worst thing is that he is still getting what he wants, which is lots and lots of publicity (be it good or bad) from this. And we all know what they say about bad publicity.

    I still think someone should just post him a copy of what Kubica said yesterday in the launch press conference, every single day, until this court case is cleared up!

  10. Just what I needed – a comprehensive overview of this bizarre Lotus branding nonsense.

    It’s a good thing James Hunt isn’t around to commentate. He used to love calling the cars “Loti” when they were running together — how would he have coped with four of the sods?

  11. I agree with your analysis of the situation and the previous comment, lets get on with the racing.

    I have noted that most sites seem to have accepted Team Lotus as Lotus and Lotus Renault GP as just Renault, ignoring the Lotus sponsorship tag. Is this acceptance by journalists/bloggers of the names as they stand?

  12. hello Joe I must say Lopez’ comments on Pitpass.com really p… me off. Why won’t he just shut up and stop behaving like a brat who’s been told that none of the other kids really like him for who he is.

  13. Hi Joe,

    Like you, I have much sympathy for Tony Fernandes because his 5 year deal to use the “Lotus Racing” name was terminated so abruptly. As you say, this is one for the courts to decide, as outsiders like us do not know the details of the contract or its alleged breaches.

    However, I have never understood Tony Fernandes logic in buying the “Team Lotus” Trademark from David Hunt, if his intention is to retain the “Lotus” chassis name.

    Even if Tony Fernandes “Team Lotus” trademark is upheld, it does not give any rights to use the “Lotus” chassis name on a car. Group Lotus PLC have a number valid, long standing “Lotus” trademarks which cover virtually all types of car, including “all racing vehicles”.

  14. I’m getting the feeling that this is starting to annoy you… I was bored of this Lotus story about 6 months ago!

  15. IainT, how many journalists (print, web, whatever) include the tobacco company name when referring to Ferrari, or the mobile phone company when referring to McLaren? Its the same thing.

    Shrug, folks will decide for themselves which to use, to me anything other than plain “Renault” and “Lotus” just adds to the confusion. Particularly as if you go with the full name of each team the differences are simply a “Team” here and a “GP” there. Way to be unique!

  16. I’m bored now.

    Perhaps a little entertainment value could be gained by creating a game show, with Brundle making the case for Lotus Renault while Blundell makes the case for Lotus Renault. The team chiefs could be strapped to a dunking chair while team members yell “witch” and …

    … continued on Page 94

  17. Kirk
    I really don’t know how you reached that conclusion, have you looked at the facts? They are; Tony fernandes decided to resurrect the lotus name in F1 which had been left dormant for 15 years. The Team Lotus racing team which had allways been a seperate entity than the car company had been sold to David Hunt. Fernandes bought a five year “lease” on the name Lotus Racing from the car company “Group Lotus” owned by Proton. Proton then terminated the aggreement 4 years early. Wether they were legally allowed to do this is a matter for the courts. At this point Tony decided to buy the rights to the Team Lotus name from David Hunt, and err that’s it. If you can see some wrongdoing in there from Fernandes then maybe you could point it out to me because I can’t see anything.

    The only wrongdoing I can see comes from

    1, Group Lotus/Proton; for selling a 5 year aggreement to use a name that they held the rights to, then changing their mind after 1 year. For attempting to bully Fernandes out of his legal ownership of the rights to the Lotus racing name. For attempting to challenge the ownership of the Team Lotus name which they have never owned.

    2, Gerard Lopez; for sticking his oar into an argument that really has nothing to do with him and littering his statements with half truths misdirection and blatant lies.

    3, The Chapman family for selling something for millions then saying that they think it shouldn’t be used!

    This whole mess basically comes down to a giant multi national company trying to intimidate a guy into giving up on his legally owned property without properly compensating him for it, maybe you think this is ok, I don’t

  18. Hi Joe – not sure I’ve ever commented on your blog before but I listen to Sidepodcast and appreciate your frank views on all things F1.

    Just a small note: that diagram wasn’t produced by Group Lotus, it was produced by me! I can prove this – it’s on my Flickr account here (http://www.flickr.com/photos/globalhumbug/5244302288/) and I have the original (powerpoint file).

    It’s not meant to be comprehensive but I’m glad you think it’s worthy of inclusion!

  19. Im confused about the confusion, seems pretty clear to me. Theres 2 teams, Group Lotus and Team Lotus.

    The only thing thats needs clearing up is how much Proton will pay Tony for pulling the Licence deal, no?

    Once thats dealt with, they can still happily and confusingly go on racing with Lotus in the names and its down to Fernandes to decide if he wants change the name or not.

    Obviously i know little of whats really going on but thats how it looks.

  20. Joe,
    You are correct, let the judge decide…

    But he will decide on ownership and the law is pretty clear. Who owns the rights to the F1 Team? OK you get to do F1. Who owns the rights to the cars? OK, you get to do Cars, and dont step on each others rights, thank you, next case!

    The complex bit will be deciding any damages that are due for infringements, broken contracts etc. The ownership bit appears, unless something is dodgy in the contracts exchanged, to be very clear cut!

  21. Group Lotus’s own flow diagram shows they have no connection to the F1 legacy or rights to the name…………..

  22. A useful overview of recent events. I wonder if any high court judges read this blog. With TF’s comment I guess they’ll have to.

    It’s a great shame that;
    1. TF didn’t manage to get deeper into Group/Proton before he started his F1 team.
    2. Group didn’t snap up Team from David Hunt years ago.
    3. TF didn’t snap up Team from DH in 2009.
    4. Group haven’t bought into Genii/Renault to strengthen their case.
    5. F1 has funny rules about naming, so that a car not built by Renault has to be called a Renault, and a Sauber a BMW, etc.
    6. Everyone’s getting so worked up by a rather entertaining bit of motoring politics.
    7. My old Elan always leaked so much.

  23. Good article and great diagram Joe. It’s nice to see someone as respected as yourself cutting through all the rubbish being spouted by Genii/Group Lotus. When I look at the situation I see Fernandes’ Team Lotus as being a continuation in both name and spirit of the old Team Lotus. I then see Group Lotus as the car manufacturer stood on the side thinking they want a bit of the pie and trying to force Team Lotus out of the way. At the end of the day Chapman created these two entities to do seperate jobs, Group to sell cars, and Team to race. Team are now trying to race and Group have decided they want to do both, hence the problem! Group could just sponsor Team to solve the problem but don’t seem interested in that as they are chasing after a quick return instead of a long-term investment. The thing that irks me is that the F1 community seem to be split between the two camps. I don’t understand why more people aren’t supportive of Fernandes’ Team Lotus, which really seems to be trying to revoke the spirit and efforts of the past. Good luck to Team Lotus anyway!

  24. Love the diagram.

    I think everyone should refer to the two teams as “Team Lotus-Renault” and “Lotus-Renault GP” and don’t forget the “” quotation marks to highlight the completely tenuous lineage of both.

    But seeing as it’s produced by Group Lotus it rather strikes me as actually affirming Fernandes’ position in showing the separate nature of Lotus Cars and Team Lotus.

    Unless Group Lotus are somehow claiming rights of ownership over Colin Chapman?!

  25. A few choice quotes from David Hunt:

    “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?”

    “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.”

    “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 common sense. 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.”

  26. John, the reason Team Lotus want to keep chassis names for the remainder of the year is because they registered to race in 2011 as Lotus, if they change the name now they have to surrender car numbers, and privileges for finishing 10th as the FIA will consider them a different team, it’s the same reason Renault will continue to run this season as Lotus Renault (with the intention of changing to Lotus Racing next season).

    I imagine that there’ll be no major changes that affect the racing this year, but hope Team Lotus are allowed to keep racing under the name they’ve paid for (twice) as they do seem to have been the more transparent operators in this scenario, and Renault have a history of underhand tactics and working with people who you really don’t want involved in high level sport.

  27. Joe

    “Why does Bahar want to be in F1 directly as a team owner?” I’ll float my crackpot theory again: that this is less to do with Bahar wanting to be a team owner and more to do with the relationship between Proton/Lotus and Genii. They have several joint plans for Proton to enter the Russian market, for Genii companies’ technology to be used in Proton and/or Lotus cars, and no doubt other bright ideas, and perhaps a long term plan for the future ownership of Lotus. The shafting of Lotus Racing was an obvious necessary first move in this relationship.

  28. Thanks for this piece Joe, my blood was at boiling, over Bahar’s recent comments!

    The western worlds automotive industry is licking it’s wounds because of the current recession, so it is a smart move to attempt to buy into a bigger market via ownership & association with a known marquee by entities which are not suffering the same financial hardships.

    I can follow the logic that far, however:

    All the rhetoric from Bahar “proves” that the premature license termination, was a result of his own ambitions, and, not that of T-shirt sales, being outside the remit of the license to 1malaysia racing.

    Why not SUPPORT the licensee? Why try to bulldoze them out the way? Collaboration would have meant no “adverse publicity”.

    The time frame for this Lotus road cars launch seems “hopeful” at best.

    How on Gods green earth has Bahar convinced the directors of Proton, that he has a clue, is beyond my level of comprehension.

    Fernandes sought a proper license from Proton, approached the Chapman family, put in an application for a slot on the grid, was accepted, performed best of the new teams, thought about the future, approached D Hunt.

    Apart from the T-shirt snaffu, seems fine to me.

    Joe was Lotus informed during the 2010 season that the 5yr licence was to be terminated?

  29. Joe,

    Yes, Lopez is right when he said it is all about money. The same money that the RENAULT TEAM would have LOST if they had changed the name of their chassis to Lotus like they wanted to.

    It amazes me how blind people can be to facts and figures.

    Oh, and Joe, not doubting Bruno Senna’s skills as a racer (hey, we would all like to have his talents, wouldn’t we?) but do you think he’s being used as a pawn in these early tests just because of his helmet colours so Group Lotus and Renault can point and shout “Look, there is Senna in the iconic black and gold livery of a Lotus.” Aside from that, I doubt there is any other reasoning behind Renault announcing a test line-up the size of a small European country…

    Thanks

    Peter J

  30. So that chart at the bottom was produced by *Group* Lotus?

    I’d say they’ve shot themselves in the foot a bit there then, as it shows a clear distinction between “Group Lotus” and “Team Lotus” right from the start.

    I thought the thrust of Group’s argument was that Team was never really a separate company, and was really owned by them.

  31. Excellent flowchart, Joe.

    Although, if Group Lotus are claiming they are carrying on Chapman’s legacy on the basis that Fernandes has only bought the name, it’s worth remembering that in 1986, Lotus Cars was bought by General Motors (who never claimed to own an F1 team or had any interest in doing so) and then in 1993 it was sold to Romano Artiolli. For a time it was a sister company to Bugatti. Then in 1996 it was sold to Proton.

    So actually, Tony Fernandes team has a more direct line to Colin Chapman as it’s only 2 owners away, rather than 3…

    1. the wizardweb,

      Please note that I have created my own flow chart to explain the story, including things that I believe should not have been left out in the original Group Lotus one.

  32. I’ve been following this ongoing mess/saga/farce(or whatever you want to call), it on this blog, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any reason given for Group Lotus to revoke the license for Tony Ferandes to use the Lotus Racing name – all I can see is that Group Lotus claim that Tony’s Lotus Team breached the agreement, but never any more details than that. It smacks of bully tactics.

    If it goes to court neither side will be satisfied, F1 will get some bad publicity in the press (again), and only the lawers etc. will get any money out of it.

    Hopefully common sense will previal, but I fear it’s too late for that.

    Group Lotus should have taken the free promotion provided by the Lotus Racing Team, and concentrated on bringing some of the planned new models to market. It would have been ideal solution for all concerned, and a much better deal for the Malaysian tax payer too.

  33. As a Lawyer in the UK I just wanted to add a few words regarding the upcoming Court Case. We would all like to see this issue resolved, one way or the other, as soon as possible. However, the decision of Mr Justice Peter Smith may not end the matter. Both parties have instructed City Law Firms and will have QCs acting for them at the Hearing, and both parties have already made such a sizeable investment in the sport that they may not settle for the the decision that is provided at first instance. Either party could appeal the decision of the Judge, particularly given he was recently removed from a professional negligence case by the Court of Appeal.

    Furthermore Peter Smith J is no stranger to controversy. Back in 2008, he told the London Solicitors Litigation Association (LSLA) that “out-of-touch” appeal judges were to blame for the reoccurrence of long trials.

    This came a year after the CoA ordered the High Court judge to stand down from a trial at the request of Addleshaw Goddard, which appeared as counsel before him. At the time he had just ended negotiations to join the firm’s litigation practice.

    Consequently the Judge doesn’t have a great reputation with the Court of Appeal, who see his decisions Appealed on a regular basis.

    This is the same Judge who dealt with the Da Vinci Code Litigation in the High Court several years ago too. While that decision was not appealed, the parties in the Lotus action are far better resourced, not to mention more entrenched, and may fancy their chances at the Court of Appeal.

    In short, while the hearing will be in May, if it goes to Appeal you can add at least another 6 months of uncertainty, taking up the bulk of the 2011 Season. If both parties could talk and reach an agreement it would be better for the Lotus brand generally and better for F1. However seeing the press conferences and launches this week has shown that this is very very unlikely to happen.

  34. Lopez’s money argument is precisely the same for his own team.

    Both would have to forego on their accumulated rights to their share of the FOM money if they want to have their constructor names changed without the permission of all the other teams – which, as long as both are involved, neither of them will give the other.

    So that argument is mute, Gérard – you both stand to lose a lot of money: Team when it loses out and has to change its name, Group when it wins the court battle and wants to celebrate by changing the constructor name to Lotus.

    Which means we have to go back to the source of the conflict, i.e. the situation when F1 had only one Lotus, the situation in which fans weren’t confused about who’s who.

    Only one moment in time applies: it’s when Group decided to pull its support of Team and go into F1 by itself.

    So, you haven’t convinced me, Gérard: Group is still to blame for this entire mess. If they’d stuck with Team and hadn’t been so impatient, we wouldn’t be in this situation. Then again, you wouldn’t be either: would there have been a Renault team without Group’s support?

  35. I have been a supporter of Team Lotus since 1962 and I like you Jo, have no problem grasping the situation, and agree with your comments 100%. But what I do not understand is the position of Clive Chapman who supports Group Lotus in this mess. The Chapman family sold Team Lotus, so who are they to say now that the name Team Lotus should not be in F1. Also, they and Group Lotus, hand the same opportunity as David Hunt to buy the company from the administer in 1994, but they chose not to. As a fan of Team Lotus, Tony Fernandes is doing me proud.

  36. Joe, is there a weblink to Group Lotus for that flowchart? Bahar has been coy or misleading about Group Lotus’ relationship with the Enstone team from the beginning (with the truth eventually coming out that the deal is essentially just a sponsorship deal). But this chart is evidence of a deliberate lie on the part of Group Lotus…

  37. It looks like group lotus have shot themselves in the photo with that diagram, from my reading of it they are suggesting that Group Lotus and Team Lotus are in fact completely separate entities, with the only link being the licensing issue. Group Lotus, for obvious reasons have also completely ignored the fact that they have passed themselves off as having an F1 legacy, whilst linking their car to the JPS car. I honestly cannot see what Fernandes has done wrong.

  38. @Henry

    Kubica’s comments from yest, instant classic lol

    “I think Lotus is our sponsor. At least from what I know it is a sponsor,” he said when asked if he dreamt to drive for Lotus.

    “So I could also say it is my dream to drive for Total. I think it would be different if Lotus owned the team and were fully involved into the team. It’s a good partner to have and they have high ambitions. It looks promising.”

  39. Joe;

    1. I’m quite flattered that so many people think my ‘Ooh Nicole’ comments etc are amusing.

    2. Your diagram is much better than mine and includes some stuff that I couldn’t find a logical place for.

    3. Can you drop me an email and suggest where you sourced my diagram from? I feel like telling Group Lotus Renault what copyright is.

  40. “Lotus Renault GP chairman Gérard Lopez says that there is only one Lotus car company”

    True dat, but has naff all to do with the Lotus F1 team and hasn’t done for decades.

    1. David Brazier,

      I don’t know anything, but you keep saying that you know stuff. I am simply pointing that you are making assumptions. I have never heard of Paul Tan. He is certainly not an F1 name. And just because Lopez says something does not mean it is true.

      I have no idea how to look up company ownership in Luxembourg – and the day I find out I might just give up being an F1 reporter…

  41. Just spent an interesting few minutes reading the transcript, the main points being;
    The Judge wants the whole thing over with as quickly as possible and is pushing for a trial date in late March 2011. The Barristers for Group seemed happy for this to happen but the Team Lotus guy didn’t like the idea and was pushing for a date of March 2012! The Judge was pretty forcefull in telling the Team guy that it was going to happen much quicker than that and he better get his s***t in order ( not actual words used). The Judge who was doing the hearing (Smith) said he didn’t think that he would be the trial Judge due to the IP issues. I assume this referes to Intellectual Property but don’t know why this would mean he can’t do it, maybe John (other John) could enlighten us, and while he’s at it what the hell is a “dog in the manger case”?!

    P.S I also noted that Team are going to try and stop Group using the Black and Gold livery, obviously claiming the right to use those colours rests with Team, this can’t be right can it? Surely a sponsoring companies colours are not the property of the team, if so BRM could have sued McLaren for using the Marlboro colours. I guess this is a bit of tit for tat or a delaying tactic.

  42. Karen Terry – I don’t think David Hunt is quite right when he says Group never built F1 cars. As far as I can see, Lotus Cars, which in the end became Group, built the first Lotus F1 cars, then Team did the actual racing of them. I may be wrong though.

    My point is, the ‘Team’ bit of the business was initially, as David Hunt points out, a different company mainly for insurance and business reasons (amongst others), not because Chapman wanted his racing activities to be seen as totally different and separate from his car building activities.

    That’s why I’m inclined to see Lotus Renault GP as the closest thing to ‘Lotus’ (imperfect though it is in many ways, and excellent and honourable all the folk at Team are).

  43. Ever since this situation erupted, it seems that most Lotus fans can only support one part or the other in this fight. I’m a die-hard Lotus fan, and has been ever since I fell in love with F1. With Lotus and with Senna. I have one room in my house dedicated to the black and gold racecar. I have tons of JPS gear and my internet-nick has been JohnPlayer for almost 15 years.

    And yet I support neither one of the outfits. And support them both. Why? Because neither one of them are the original Team Lotus. Period! Not by a mile. They are both parties who akknowlegde the heritage of the original Team Lotus – for reasons of respect and money equaly divided. They are both respectful. They are both opportunists.

    Hence that, I’ve dicided to lean back and enjoy what is going on. I could be angry that all of this is happening. But why? None of them is right. None of them is the real deal Lotus. But both of them shows what a huge name Lotus was and is in Formula One. To get a classic green Lotus and a black/gold Lotus on the track is just wonderful.

    I just wish they wouldn’t fight so much over it all. That is their personal ego’s fighting, not one right Lotus fighting one wrong Lotus. Both of them is wrong. Both of them is sort of right. Sort of. Because the only true Lotus team out there right now is Classic Team Lotus, and the Team Lotus and Lotus Cars in our memories. THAT is Lotus! Not all this name and rights warfare. That is just a tad sad.

    But I refuse to be sad, when I see the season start with both a classic green and a black/gold Lotus on the track. Instead I will enjoy the testament they are both showing that Lotus is the biggest brand and name in Formula One after Ferrari.

  44. Hi Joe,

    Q: Since “Team Lotus” have dropped Cosworth deal, and now have an engine deal with ‘Renault F1’; shouldn’t the diagram show that link at 2011 epoch.

    This meas the diagram would show both “Team Lotus” and “Lotus-Renault GP” for 2011 as having the same Engine Supplier link to Renault F1 Motorsport (or something like that).

    Not that the diagram needs to get any busier or convoluted, but I think this is not a peripheral common linkage.

    PS: My PoV – Best wishes to Tony Fernandes and “Team Lotus”. A credible first F1 season effort built on a new team from scratch, and in the SPIRIT of F1 Lotus reborn. Not a fan of ‘johnny-come-lately’ Bahar/Proton in their bullyboy approaches to muscling in and renegging on deal made to TF to undermine him and take the developed F1 interest for themselves (acting like spoilt kids who always want the toys other kids are happily and rightfully playing with)

  45. I suppose this story is another piece of the F1 tale. From the outside we could see it as a just another episode in a very expensive soap opera! From the inside I suppose it’s just a huge mess!

    However, in a month or so we’ll all be able to see if the green ‘n’ yellow can outpace the black ‘n’ gold.

    You can question many things about the validity of Team Lotus but one thing is certain. When Mike Gascoyne gets it right, he gets it right and I can’t wait to see if Mike has come up with the goods.

  46. I certainly don’t know anything either! I think I have used the words “theory” and “fantasy” in my comments. The Paul Tan site has always seemed reliable enough as far as websites go, and I accept it is my assumption those are genuine recent answers by Lopez. It would be a bit of a barefaced lie by Lopez if he & his partner are not the sole owners, wouldn’t it? I just think that the Bahar v Fernandes personal battle is fun for people to get hot under the collar about, but the reality may have more to do with boring business reasons only indirectly related to either of them.

  47. To be honest, I suspect marketing is as big a part of this for Bahar & Chums as anything else.

    Seriously, over the last few weeks and no doubt the next few months, all we’ve heard and all we’ll hear is:

    LOTUS….. LOTUS!!…. LOTUS…. LOTUS…

    Talk about increasing brand awareness…

  48. Joe, your diagram (Lotus versus Lotus in one Diagram) shows neatly that their are less steps between Colin Chapman and the current Team Lotus than the Group Lotus/Renault effort, therefore Team Lotus is closer to the old Lotus.

    The conflicting statements from Bahar about the reasons for the summary termination of the naming rights agreement, for me, stands out.

    Also, the Chapman family has placed itself in an awkward situation having taken the money when Team Lotus was sold, including the legal right to use the name, but now suggesting that the name shouldn’t be used.

    There is now doubt much more of this story to come but from the facts currently available, my legal friends tell me that there can only be one winner, Team Lotus, and to expect a last minute ‘secret’ out of court settlement.

    Meantime, officially we have a team called Renault and one called Team Lotus entered in the F1 World Championship. The only confusion is caused by Renault trying to get us all calling their team Lotus Renault without changing the official entrant name. Why should TV companies even want to put the name of a sponsor into the team name – free advertising – surely not. Not to mention new team colours extremely evocative of the tobacco advertising era and even acknowledged as such by the team calling the colour schem ‘iconic’. Yes, very iconic, of tobacoo advertising. I see that John Player have already taken advantage of the free advertising by new ads, where allowed, with a motor racing theme.

  49. Regardless of whether of not you believe that Team Lotus are the rightful heirs to the throne, the way that Group and Bahar have treated Tony Fernandes is out of order IMO. And the crap that Bahar and Lopez have been spouting is just insult to injury.

    Team Lotus have been a fantastic addition to the grid and TF, along with Mike Gascoyne, have put together an operation with great potential and personality. I didn’t like them using the Lotus name when they first arrived, but the enthusiasm of TF and the efforts of the whole team to do all they can to be respectful to the traditions and fans of Lotus in F1. There was no doubt in mind that when I went to spa last year, I was there to cheer on Jarno and Heikki.

    And then arrives Bahar. What an absolute joke this is. He’s gotta to be doing this to try and prove someone at Ferrari wrong, because no right minded person would think that his plans are a good idea. To throw 100’s of millions of pounds on sponsoring almost every single motorsport, developing race engines and indycar aero packages, whilst also developing 4 or 5 new models that he needs to sell a ridiculous number of to break even is just insane. The dumbest part of all however is the decision to pull support of Louts Racing. I believe I’m right that Proton where paying TF £1m a year for a team that everyone thought was part of the car company and was winning fans. Now they’re paying a silly money to sponsor a team that will be still be listed on the TV feed graphics as Renault. I have real sympathy the for Malaysian tax payer that’s gonna to be left with the the bill. The DeLorean story is repeating itself all over again, some many similarities it’s almost not funny.

    I really hope that Team Louts stuff Renault this year. Good luck to Tony, Mike and all the people at Team Lotus.

    Oh, and much respect to Kubica for that awesome quote at the launch! He’s my hero of the week!

  50. David Brazier,

    Who says that Lopez is not telling the truth there? He might well be. Although looking at the web of companies behind Genii and Gravity, woven across the world to Panama and God-knows-where, it’s fair to say it’s not the whole truth…

  51. I’m firmly behind Fernandes, because I’m certain he will still be in the pitlane in 2013, whereas Bahar will most likely be either fired, have gone bust or moved on to greener pastures. Rarely have I seen fan opinion so firmly against someone as the reaction Bahar has been subject to in the last few weeks. Kubica seems to understand this better than anyone else in Renault.

  52. There does exist another problem:

    I don’t think the litigation has been drafted widely enough to decide all these issues we raise.

    I get the strong, and disturbing feeling, that the parties want to argue solely the “sponsorship/license” of pre – Bahar agreement, and not the fundamental concern of original transfer of rights to the Lotus name. (which i picked some holes in, a while ago)

    In plain language, i believe both parties are trying to keep their powder dry.

    That is a sure – fire route to disaster. Because we simply do not see it in narrow, legal, terms.

    The trial may expand, but the sitting Justice is known for narrow remits, and he has been presented a narrow remit. The primes inter pares justice for these concerns, quit, in some disgust, at the absolute top, and is back in private practice.

    It would suit many parties for this to be the most exciting damp squib ever. But we are powerless to change that.

    Morning to you all!

    – john

  53. Incidentally, Aesop told this story long ago.

    You can get a drug – like hit from knocking out specific arguments, and thwarting your temporary intellectual enemies.

    I’ve changed my view. It’s all wrong. No winners.

    – j

  54. Hi Joe,

    I understand what you mean by not taking whatever Lopez says in an interview as being the absolute truth. I think you can do a lookup on who owns Genii Capital here.

    http://www.companydocuments.com/luxembourg

    Will see if I can find any cheaper sources. Might just buy the report myself. But in any case, I’m not sure what we’re looking for… what would it imply if the owners are not just Lopez and Lux? Guess it would depend on what names pop up then.

    Cheers!

  55. I’m sure there’s got to be a pun in here somewhere along the lines of, “In the absence of full information, we must assume the Lotus position…”

  56. Good way to look at it from both sides. At the end of the day its only business and it all hinges on the annuled license Fernandes bought. A judge can decide what that annulment cost him and decide on a level of compensation. I should not think that he would force Group Lotus to re-issue the license.

    Based on a comment above, Joe, do you have reasons to believe that Renault are a limited partner in Genii? Nothing wrong with being one, other than it clarifies their status in F1 (I was also under the impression that they have divested their stake in the F1 team).

  57. A good point about the Lotus Racing launch last year, we turned up expecting to see the ACBC badge on the car, instead it had a Lotus Racing badge on a background that mimicked the an old style Lotus/Team Lotus badge. That left me wondering then whether they were really Lotus or using the name as a marketing exercise. To me Lotus irrespective of who owns the name brand in what ever form or structure of ownership is the ACBC logo central to that badge, designed by Colin Chapman and is the very essence of what the brand is given that Lotus originated with Chapman in the first place.

    1. PC

      I think was more to do with the fact that they wanted to avoid trouble with David Hunt at that point. I don’t think it had anything to with Group Lotus.

  58. Joe, my question was about Genii 🙂 If you decide not to discuss anything Lotus-related , your diagram leaves very little else!

  59. Joe that’s my point, they did not have to be the ACBC Team Lotus badge on the car last year, for reasons tyou state, whereas they could have had just the standard ACBC badge, which was on the customer single seater cars in the early days and I believe on Innes Ireland’s car when he won the first victory for Team Lotus, which wore the ACBC Lotus badge not the ACBC Team Lotus badge.

    In terms of the right to use the Team Lotus name, were there not covenants built into the sale before any new team could use the name with any authority i.e. you had to proof your worth before you could use the Team Lotus?

  60. The decision surely is that both names can be used as they are registered at Companies house, Lotus shoes could sponsor Williams for example, and then there would be three. Fernandes is morally right even if it is shown that his contract with Proton/Lotus can be cancelled he still has the right to use the name Team Lotus as any company name once registered with companies house can be bought and sold even if its lies doormant for years. As Robert Kubica said they ( Lotus Cars ) are a sponsor just as Total are.

  61. Pingback: Lotus Vs. Lotus

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