F1 Commission accepts name changes

There is no official word on the matter, but we hear that the three name changes that were being requested by teams have all been agreed by the Formula 1 Commission, at a meeting in Geneva today. This means that next year Team Lotus will have a car called a Caterham; Lotus Renault GP will have a car called a Lotus and Marussia Virgin Racing will be running Marussia chassis. The confirmation of the name changes will not come until the next meeting of the FIa World Motors Sport Council, which is due to take place in the first week of December.

The news, if confirmed, is interesting in that it ends the fight between the two Lotuses. More importantly, by implication it confirms that Lotus Renault GP is now intrinsically linked to Group Lotus. The Norfolk car company was previously the title sponsor of the team, but the news that the other F1 teams have agreed to allow the F1 cars to race as Lotuses, would seem to confirm that the F1 teams will be used to promote car Group Lotus car sales. The agreement suggests that the other teams have been convinced that Group Lotus is in F1 to stay. my feeling is that this underlines the story that Genii is at the centre of a consortium that has bought Group Lotus from its parent company Proton and thus has a direct interest in both the car company and the team.

48 thoughts on “F1 Commission accepts name changes

  1. Thanks for the early news, Joe.
    If indeed Genii is involved in the purchase of Group Lotus from Proton, I’m wondering how it was possible for them to do what Tony Fernandes couldn’t do.

  2. Really enjoyed reading all the insight into the happenings within F1 from the posts you wrote the last couple of days Joe. Thanks for the effort and research.

  3. Joe, does anyone really care what these obscure entities call themselves? Prompted, I could happily recall a genuine racing company which used the title Lotus, back in the distant past, but I don’t see what connection there is to the present users of the name.

    Just like the TV cameras, most people are focused on the top three teams and gain merely a bit of amusement from the antics of the aspirants in the rest of the field.

  4. So was the Renault to Lotus deal done on the basis that Bahar has gone?
    Do you actually know that GL has been sold Joe? When you have “feelings” they are usually founded on facts that have embargoes preventing you from making a firm statement so I suppose you cannot say anyway.

    So does this mean they can keep their “points make prizes” money?

  5. Hi Joe!

    Any news on Bahrain and Korea (which, I gather, they were also supposed to talk about)?


  6. Well this ends the ridiculous Lotus name row. In the end both parties concerned achieved their goals. Only the fans believing this was about tradition and spirit of once great team have been, pardon my language, screwed. Fernandes dissapointed huge amount of people, yet this was to be expected judging by his football business (who remembers the “Loyal West Ham fan tag on Tony’s twitter?). This all mess could have been and should have been avoided.

  7. I agree with Joe. What on Earth was TF supposed to do? I’m disappointed that he felt he had to change away from the Lotus name, as I feel that his team captured the spirit of the old Lotus team. Bahar/Genii have basically bought the team originally called Toleman and given it yet another makeover. Given their apparent behaviour, I don’t know if I can support Lotus in 2012, but I’ll definitely be supporting Caterham.

  8. Neither team had ANY legitimate claim to the Lotus name or link to the legacy of the famous team. My only disappointment is that either of them are allowed to continue on as Lotus. The Lotus name should have been allowed to fade gracefully into history along with the memory of Colin Chapman and Ayrton Senna’s qualy laps. The thought of Dany Bahar wearing a Lotus F1 uniform makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

  9. Sorry but let me get this straight. Lotus is no longer owned by Proton and Dany Bahar is out? If so about bloody time but I cant find any trace of this. And will there be a clash of green and gold because out of Group Lotus’s motorsport division, f1 is the only team to go black and gold with everyone else going green and gold. I highly doubt Tony Fernandes will change again to suit Lotus

    1. davcuk,

      nothing is confirmed but if the teams agreed to allow Renault to run cars called Lotuses there must have been a good explanation that linked the team to the car company. Beyond just a sponsor. Secondly, Lopez buying Group Lotus has been ongoing for the last couple of months, but it needs to be dressed up the right way to keep the Malaysian politicians happy

  10. Hi Joe,

    Thanks for the update.

    Apologies if this has been mentioned before. However does Team Lotus Ventures still own Caterham Cars – or has that passed to the Tune Group?

    1. WBarnarto

      I guess the company name will change at some point. That is not important. It is the company number that is important.

  11. @DaveMyers

    I agree to an extent. For me as Lotus fan who started supporting the original Team Lotus because of the road car division (though even at that time they had just been separated from the car division, but I was eight!) when Mr Fernandez bought Caterham it was the end.

    I can’t rationally explain it but if Mr Fernandez had revived the Tyrrell or BRM name it would have been fine by me. However as Lotus is also related to the car company of the same name. I loved Lotus Racing in 2010. However Team Lotus this year was a guilty pleasure. I write this wearing a Team Lotus sweatshirt! Once the connection between the two companies broke down it just wasn’t very satisfactory for anyone.

    I will be supporting the Caterham team next year as they should be congratulated on how they went about entering the sport. However I DO look forward to the new Lotus team (hopefully not called Team Lotus, create a new legend please) as the old Toleman/Benetton/Renault team are a fantastic bunch, though I do worry about their driver line up

  12. The key difference between Fernandes and Genii is that TF delivers what he says he will. He tried to buy West Ham, failed and went and bought a rival team. Should the ‘loyal WHFC Fan’ hash tag on Twitter preclude him from doing business elsewhere??

    Joe, you are wide of the mark (IMO) re. GL

  13. DaveMyers, at the end of the day, every auto maker has the right to have an F1 team and name its chassis after itself. Even Lotus has the right to do so.

    1. Zoltan,
      Rights? Hmm. Interesting idea. No-one has any rights until they have an F1 entry. Tony Fernandes had one as Team Lotus. Lotus Renault GP did not have the right. Npw they do.

  14. Joe,

    Do you know from any of your contacts what has happened to the Lotus branded Judd engines for IndyCar?

    KV Racing (who had the Lotus branded cars in 2011) have confirmed with Chevy, and Lotus Judd is the only one of the three engines not being tested in a DW12 chassis on the track.

    Do you think Lotus / Judd will turn up to IndyCar for 2012 or will they disappear?

  15. I wonder if Lotus will run their Renault engines as “Lotus”, and if the IndyCar engine is a success will they be looking at building their own engines for F1 in the future.

  16. Maybe there is more in the deal of Tony Fernandes changing the name of his F1 team to Caterham. He hired Tony Shute who led the development of the Elise in the nineties. It would make sense if TF will get the license to produce the successor to the current Elise in exchange for dropping the Team Lotus name.

    The Elise would fit in the Caterham car portfolio, Tony Shute can develop things, the dissapointed Lotus customers can buy “Lotus DNA” for affordable money and everybody is happy.

    1. BSC,

      A lot of maybes in that story. An Elise successor is the obvious step for Caterham, so hiring the right people is logical.

  17. I’ll be supporting Caterham also. Its a team that will probably stay the same. Renault on the other hand will likely change its name again in a few years if everything said about Lotus Cars profits are true.

    Really there was nothing else Tony Fernandes could do. If he kept them as Team Lotus Lotus Cars would have continued to lie to F1 fans and promote TL’s heritage as their own. At least this way Caterham can get far better advertising for there company. Really changing it to Caterham was the only move that made sence.

  18. Where’s the true Lotus soul? Probably – no definitely – more with TF but, in reality, somewhere in the glorious past and dead in Chapman’s coffin. Why can’t all these guys stop grave digging and start with a clean slice of A4. All they are doing is denegrading history. Lotus lived, thrived, survived and died with ACBC in 1982… Wake up!

    1. Jonathan G,

      Nice to have a fellow scribe commenting. Good question. I don’t really see passion being a major part of Lopez’s armoury. If it does exist it is well hidden. It is all about exploiting brands. Lotus is a brand so if these people can give it credibility and re-establish it, then it will be there. That may not appeal to the tweed cap gang (including your good self) but it is part of modern life. A bit like a 1950s pop hit that is being recycled for some meat-wearing marketing tool with VIP sunglasses…

  19. Obvious question – I seem to recall Team Lotus were given payments based on having a historical name (as Williams, McLaren, and – especially, infamously – Ferrari do, though at a lower level, obviously). Does this mean they’ve given those up to become Caterham, and do they now accrue to Toleman-Benetton-Renault?

    1. Reboot,
      No I don’t believe they received any historical payments. What they have earned in the last two years will go to Caterham.

  20. Strange but I still think of Lotus Renault GP as Renault…can’t quite shake it off. Maybe once the livery changes it’ll be easier.

  21. Jonathan Gill,

    I will extend the CAB Lotus soul a bit until 1988. Why ?

    Because of Martin Ogilvie who worked for Lotus for 13 years, starting on the Lotus 72 and finishing with the 100T, being chief designer with Colin Chapman from the type 81 onwards and then with Gerard Ducarouge from the type 94T til the Lotus 100T. Chapman himself wanted Gerard Ducarouge as lead designer before his death.


    The future was better in the past.

  22. Is there any substance to the Genii / Proton story, or could it just be a hint that there were some equity behind the sponsor tie up (would make a “Lotus” chassis name more legitimate than a Genii chassis). Could it just be that it was better to have the sponsor name on the chassis than to refuse to let Renault leave – Must be very frustrating for the french motor manufacturer, you publicly walk away from having your own F1 team, but the brand still remains there outside your control

  23. Given TF’s intial desire to resurrect the Lotus name because of its F1 history, I can’t really fathom why he has now gone for Caterham. Why not try and buy the “rights” to another dormant F1 brand like Brabham or Tyrrell?

    1. Cynic,

      Time will tell. I doubt there would have been agreement for the name change if he was still going to be there.

  24. When TF first ventured into the murky world of F1 with the Lotus name, I was initially wary, but then impressed with his ambition and respect for the name and its heritage, having chosen to do so with the blessing of the Chapman family (initially), and to set up camp in Norfolk….. then, if we are to believe an albeit simplified account of events, everyone fell out with each other over the branding of some T-Shirts or something, and out of what appeared to be spite, the other side of the Lotus brand, as owned by the Malaysian Government/Proton decides to get into bed with Renault (who were no longer Renault anyway), and it all kicked off quite spectacularly and unnecessarily.

    SO, from a personal point of view at least, I initially backed Tony F as a “Lotus” team, and will do so next year as Caterham, as I grew up in Caterham, walked past the old factory on my way to the shops on my school lunch, and regularly went for a spin with my mates Dad in his Caterham 1600 down the High Street

    I dont doubt for a second, the integrity, passion and commitment of the guys and girls at Renault/Genii/Russian Bank/whatever, in fact i feel quite sorry for them after the rocky road they have had over the past few years. First being threatened with the company they work for quiting, then being thrown a lifeline… not to mention all the wordrobe changes they have had to go through recently! However, I will fail to see the historic relevance to the next name that their next set of new bosses will have them wear on their back. Admittedly Tony F could also have this argument levied against him 2 years ago, but at least he tried to do it in the right sort of manner


  25. Interesting. Dany Bahar is still at Lotus. Lotus is still owned by Proton and not by Genii. And Tony Fernandez claims to have won the court case and still sells the brand, which proves that he only cares about his own pockets. And the only Lotus next year in F1 is Group Lotus with Dany Bahar. So who now has to apologise publicly here, Mr. Saward? You should more listen to “facts” and not so much to your “feelings”. That’s at least what i heard journalism is all about.

    1. Alex,

      You are a rude fellow, aren’t you? Normally I would throw such a comment in the trash for being disrepectful and because it shows an absolute ignorance of what a blog is (read the explanation in Blog Rules), but I am happy to leave you to be hung out to dry. Just wait. And then you apologise…

  26. @ Jonathan Gill

    I *almost* agree with your sentiments about letting Lotus lie (as does mine… gotta do something about that before winter). Especially with the whole Bahar fiasco. But, I must say that I did get rather caught up in the enthusiasm that TF brought. I can’t imagine anything better to do with massive dollars than pursue such a fantasy… that, by the way, has a business plan behind it.

    What do you think a restored Elan +2 will get in trade for a new TF Caterham?

  27. Joe,

    Can you tell us what’s happened to the Team Lotus name. Is it being kept by TF or has it been sold to Group Lotus ?

    I assume there is still some financial value attached to it.

    1. FramF1,

      It has been transferred to Group Lotus. The deal was necessary to unravel the mess and I suspect that Tony Fernandes got a slice of the national airline MAS to convince him to give up, after legal attempts to push him out of the way had failed.

  28. Joe,
    Your radar has picked up an interesting item. It is known in the City, but not talked about that Genii Capital has been looking for funds. As you know the BRIC’s have the money, and the trip to Brazil was to look at some funding, using Senna as a possible cover.

    It makes perfect business sense to take over the car company, and run – use an F1 team to develop the Brand, and provide some useful R&D that can be moved across to the road cars.
    Also, as you know Joe, there is a historical link with Renault, at the road car level and the F1 team. The French would love to sell gear boxes and engines to Lotus Cars, like in the “old” days. These are re-badge in the road cars.

    Of course the big grey area is the F1 team performing. Ferrari can shift a lot of cars when they are winning, and now McLaren will do the same with their road car side. So if Lotus F1 does the business on the track, then cars will move. You also highlighted a while back the team of so called advisers that the Car Company has taken onboard.

  29. Joe – my comment was not that Genii were interested in Saab, but that venture capital firms should not be running car manufacturers. Unfortunately some proud automotive names are now dust because people with chequebooks and HP pocket calculators took over.

  30. @Adrian Newey Jnr: Without those VCs with their pocket calculators those businesses would of gone under even sooner. Didn’t help Saab that they didn’t make a new car in a decade…

    The whole Saab mess was GM fault (in my opinion).

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