Renault F1 team owner Gerard Lopez says he has no concerns over objections to his team colour scheme on the grounds that it may infringe upon the tobacco advertising ban.
Speaking at the launch of the Renault R31 Lopez said:
No, there are two reasons. Number one is we haven’t got a relationship with a tobacco company.
The second reason is, even if we had, there’s another famous team racing around in a colour that is not a typical colour and is very close to a cigarette manufacturer.
Black and gold is very simple, we just wanted something to be really classy, something to be iconic. When I was a kid my first pocket money went to buy a black and gold Formula 1 car.
When I bought that car, even as a teenager, it took me quite a while to understand the car’s sponsor was a cigarette manufacturer. It took me a lot of time because I wasn’t aware what JPS was. The fact is what we’ve done here is a colour that we believe is iconic but for sure there is no interest in promoting anybody’s brand.
If somebody has a problem with that, they have a problem with a non-issue.
He brushed off concerns that it might break laws in Canada, where F1 races, saying: “It’s an issue that they have, not us.”
Lopez described his joy at bringing a classic colour scheme back to F1 despite the ongoing row with Team Lotus. He said:
Really it’s a personal choice of the management. We love the colour scheme and we have done so since we started talking to Lotus. So there was no question in our mind what colour the car would be.
It’s a big personal satisfaction. It’s really great so that’s why I find it sad when somebody kind of claims passion and heritage and so on and so forth. Probably there’s some truth, partial truth in that.
But the fact is for me it’s a big win, honestly, because for me it’s the most iconic car livery out there. I mean, there’s the red of Ferrari and so on but this is one of them and to be linked to that is really a dream come true.
Lopez added that he had not considered changing the team’s constructor name to ‘Lotus’, saying:
No, because we’re honest about it. We’d have lost money. Rather than bullshit people we actually say the truth.
The fact is we have a Renault engine, we have a Renault partnership so we have a right to keep the Renault name, but at the same time had we changed it there would have been issues with the TV so we never thought about it and we never claimed anything else.
He also said the team would not have to remove the Lotus branding from their car if they lost the court case with Lotus:
No, because any company has a right to promote its product in Formula 1. That’s what we’re saying.
And nobody has the right to take somebody else’s name and, at most, by coincidence, call it that way. But don’t claim the heritage.
Somebody brought me the [Lotus] release from last night and I mean it’s so blatant it’s almost funny.
Group Lotus have an option to buy a stake in the Renault team, which Lopez’s company Genii now owns entirely, he said:
We bought the 25% left from Renault.
So we own today 100% and Lotus is sponsor number one and they’ve actually purchased an option that gives them the right to buy a certain stake in the team within the next two years.
Lotus naming rights row
Image © Renault / LAT