Date:Thursday October 20 2011
Could the battle over the use of the Lotus name be coming to an end?
In one of the most boring and confusing episodes of Formula One branding, a Formula 1 Commission meeting in Geneva on November 3rd could see the conclusion of the legal dispute between Team Lotus [owned by Tony Fernandes] and Group Lotus [owned by Proton].
The battle has gone on throughout the season and has seen the team formally owned by Renault running as Lotus Renault GP and the Tony Fernandes outfit running as Team Lotus.
A High Court decision in London back in May failed to clear the mess up with the ruling permitting Team Lotus to continue to race in Formula One under the name following the legal dispute with Group Lotus.
The court hearing had been a long time in coming following a fall out between the two parties in 2010.
That decision meant that for the remainder of the 2011 season, they have continued to race with the Team Lotus badge and name and in the traditional Lotus racing colours of British racing green. While Group Lotus [who have widely be known as Renault despite large Lotus advertising] have continued to race with the black and gold livery made famous by the John Player Special sponsorship of Lotus in the 1980's.
The decision also stated that in the future they were the only team who could race as simply 'Lotus'. In September hints began to drop that a deal could be reached for 2012 and that proposal will now be voted on at the Formula 1 Commission.
The poll will decide if Team Lotus can become Caterham and Renault can become Lotus.
The proposal is unlikely to come up against much opposition with most in the sport just wanting a decision to come and end the complications and confusions.
However Formula One teams are set on tightening the rules to prevent a similar scenario happening again.
'we want to clarify the fact that for the future we need to put certain rules in place in order to make sure that this is not becoming every two weeks a trade off position that some teams can use.' Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali told Autosport Magazine after a FOTA meeting which had discussed the proposal.
He added: 'to have two Lotuses can cause confusion, but we need to establish the rules to say, yes we can do it, or sorry that is not possible.'
The name change also suites Renault who sold the team in 2009 to Genii Capital.
'We sold the team two years ago, and the strategy was not to cut the whole relationship with the team because, when you are a big car maker, you cannot stop like that, The strategy decision was to decline step-by-step, to push the technical partnership. Renault Sport's managing director Jean-Francois Caubet told Autosport Magazine.
'With the chassis name, it was a little bit embarrassing for Renault because the control of the team was done by Genii, the main sponsor was Lotus and for the British press it was a Renault team!
'We didn't push too much to change, but we asked Bernie if he could help us, and Lotus will be a good solution.'
Date:Thursday October 20 2011
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