Lotus tipped for Caterham deal

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Lotus are tipped to acquire the Caterham sports car company.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Air Asia Boss Swoops For Caterham (Sky)

“Fernandes, who owns the Lotus Formula One team, is likely to announce the acquisition of Caterham next week, according to people close to the situation. The deal will reunite the ownership of Lotus F1 with one of the brand’s famous sports car operations.”

Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart F1/NASCAR swap teaser (F1 Fanatic on YouTube)

Mozaika dla Roberta

Brilliant mosaic of Robert Kubica created using pictures submitted by his fans.

What is behind Murdoch’s plot to grab the wheel at Formula One? (The Independent)

“Sources close to News Corp were yesterday seeking to imply that F1 needs to appeal to a younger audience, for instance by exploiting social networks. Who better to oversee that modernisation than one of the world’s largest media conglomerates?”

Sir Jackie Stewart insists Bernie Ecclestone can survive a takeover of Formula One and retain control of sport (Daily Telegraph)

“Bernie knows Rupert Murdoch. I’m sure they have had many dinners together. If they take over they may turn around and say ‘why try to fix a wheel if it’s not broken?'”

Could F1 go pay-per-view? (BBC)

“F1 teams be tempted to try to secure their own short-term financial futures by removing the bar to pay-per-view in the Concorde Agreement, so they can free up the possibility of a big pay-day from, for example, Murdoch? The short answer is that they don’t know yet. While teams are beginning to focus on the need for a new Concorde Agreement, they are, in the words of one team principal, ‘nowhere’ on the subject of broadcasting.”

Q&A with Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)

“The race on Sunday really was one of the most exciting Grands Prix that I’ve ever driven. It took some time after the race to let everything sink in because I had high hopes for a good podium result, and I had led for a quarter of the race. However I can’t blame anybody in the team for having been short on fuel, it’s a lesson that we learn together.”

Texas ‘won’t be a normal Tilke circuit’ (Crash)

Kevin Schwantz: “Tilke has designed quite a few of the fairly new F1 tracks, and what Tavo and I both didn’t want to happen was for this to be just like everything else that is out there right now. We wanted this track to have some things in it from some of the favourite tracks we used to race on.”

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

Lots of discussion on the Drag Reduction Systems yesterday. Here’s an interesting prediction from Hallard:

DRS has got to go. I’m surprised that so many people are now embracing it now, but mark my words?? as soon as we have a race victory decided by an easy DRS pass in the last few laps of the race, the fans and the media alike will be calling for it to be scrapped.

From the forum

Who’s going to this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed?

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Fixy and Kaylee911!

On this day in F1

It was a Ferrari one-two-three in the non-championship San Remo Grand Prix 60 years ago today.

Alberto Ascari led home Dorino Serafini and Rudolf Fischer.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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88 comments on “Lotus tipped for Caterham deal”

  1. notice it’s the 2009-spec McLaren or just the 2009 nose. not saying it’s a problem but couldn’t they given him last years car?

    1. If I’m not mistaken, using a chassis that’s only a year old violates the testing ban. That’s why Schumacher had to use the F2007 to get to grips when he was tipped to stand in for Massa in 2009.

      1. Ahh cheers m8 for clarifying :)

        1. I Dunno why they don’t keep using the Mp4-23. Title winning, covered in bells and whistles.

          1. Very true, a nice car and a title winner. Last of a generation with flips and flops all over for better downforce.

  2. This is just a wild guess but…

    Caterham GP, April 27th??? Or something similiar???

  3. Could F1 go pay-per-view?

    Haven’t read the whole article, but if that happened, F1 would really lose me as viewer. The reason: not because I’m against it, but simply because I’d not be able to afford it.

    1. I would be much the same, particularly as a student living in London. If it could be done by pay per view through the internent it might be plausible, but if it was on a cable channel which I had to pay for I couldn’t justify it.

    2. Thankfully I live in Germany where an PPV-only F1 would most likely be cut short by court order.

      Well, if it goes through, I would have to consume the sport by the wonders of live streaming on the world wide web.

    3. UNeedAFinn2Win
      22nd April 2011, 6:35

      In Finland, F1 is live only on a pay channel package. I don’t mind 20€/month for 12 channels.
      But if the races go pay-per-view (15-20€/race or whatever) that’ll kill it.

      1. It currently costs £14.50 per month to add Sky Sports 1 to my Virgin TV package. As much as I love F1, I’m not willing to pay for it, maybe if it was £2 or £3 more – Yes. But £14.50 – NOOOOOOO WAY.

        1. That’s been my gripe about F1 in the states, you have to get a package that is >$60/month (~$100/month for HD) to watch F1. Frankly, I can’t believe that F1 doesn’t stream or allow people to stream F1 races for $2-$3/race or something similar (maybe $5/race and then $2.50/race for a season package).

          1. Agree. The situation is almost inverse for us. A lot of people in the U.S. might gladly pay $10-15 per race if they could avoid the gold-plated HD channel/internet/phone package you need to get SpeedTV in HD from the cable company. Otherwise youre paying $200 or more a month for the right “package.” Many people just can’t justify that.

          2. Spaulding I agree, I cannot believe that F1 don’t offer an official stream for a small fee. It makes so much sense.

            dmw, it seems like cable / pay tv business models suck everywhere. I thought it was just in Australia. Why can’t the pay TV channel just let the viewer pick and choose exactly what channels they want, and then charge them per channel. Why do they make it that you have buy packages of certain channels, just to get the one channel you actually want. I wonder if it is a technology problem, or just a poor business model. Either way it’s annoying, and it’s why I won’t get pay TV in Australia.

  4. I honestly do not see the point of Team Lotus buying Caterham, or even see a single incentive other than it might somehow in some way irritate Group Lotus.

    Plus there’s been talk that caterham might be interested in buying the rights to manufacture the Elise when Lotus ends production of it. I imagine Group Lotus would be much less willing to sell the rights to them if Team Lotus are the owners.

    1. When first seeing the headline I immediately assumed that it would be Group Lotus buying Caterham, I find it much more interesting now seeing that it may be Team Lotus. I agree with you that it will irritate Group Lotus, but it might be clever on the part of Fernandes. Especially if they could acquire the rights to manufacture the Elise.

      2 Lotus companies competing on track and for consumers would be even more confusing, but with Group Lotus heading in the direction it is, I would not mind seeing Team Lotus take up the mantle of what Colin Chapman’s Lotus originally stood for by building lightweight, sharp handling Caterhams and Elise roadsters.

      1. I agree completely. The stuff that Dany Bahar is pumping out at Group Lotus in no way represents Chapman’s motto of “simplify, then add lightness.” Caterham on the other hand, has stayed true to his design philosophy (albeit by basically just using his design).

        When I first heard about the Lotus dispute last fall, and it was suggested (by Joe Saward I believe) that Fernandes had planned at some point to take over Group Lotus, but due to the disagreement might ultimately choose in the future to start his own competing car company, my immediate thought was that he should buy Caterham who’ve maintained Chapman’s design philosophy. I was pleasantly surprised to see news today that it could actually come to fruition.

        1. Douglas62500
          22nd April 2011, 9:51

          I agree. I don’t know what Bahar wants to achieve in business, but so far as car fans I think he is making the Lotus brand look silly. The 5 concept cars they made are not bad at all, and I’m confident they are going to fine tune them very well indeed, but that just isn’t very “Lotus”, making prestigious luxury cars. And it makes them look even more silly by putting gold stickers onto someone else’s F1 cars without actually doing anything purposeful…sigh…

        2. The Caterham design, which the company has been lightning for a ridiculous amount of time now, has ridiculous pace around tracks now. So fast, Le Mans have BAN’d! them.

          Caterham took up the motto, too quick to race.

    2. Remember that Colin Chapman’s goal in sports cars was to build a relatively affordable, light-weight sports car using new technology to drive their appeal. Group Lotus has instead decided to play in the deep end of the pool with the big guys. With a Caterham buy-out, Fernandes could take that brand (which was based on the Lotus 7) and expand on Chapman’s original intent without encroaching into Group Lotus’ new intended market direction.

      If (still a big if) and when Group Lotus crash and burn in 3 to 5 years competing against the likes of Ferrari with their new marketing plan, Fernandes can still pick up the pieces (trademarks) and scale it back down to Chapman’s original vision.

      A couple of years ago, it was speculated that Fernandes wanted to buy Group Lotus from Proton – but they had other ideas and squeezed TF instead. This is a good interim step for TF as Group Lotus dig an ever deeper financial hole.

  5. surprisingly, the china 2011 race edit is up but the malaysian one isn’t :S

    1. And the China race edit is kinda disappointing too. Certainly not as good as the Australian one, even if it is the better race. It almost seemed like this race was too exciting for them to cut up into a nice video.

  6. I don’t want F1 to go on Sky, but if it happened, would it be Sky Box Office material or Sky Sports material? I hope it wouldn’t be SBO coz that wud be £20 a race!! :(

    1. Of course it wouldn’t be box office, that would be a fairly silly.

      I’m not particularly fussed whether it goes PPV, I will watch F1 no matter what it’s on. Besides Sky would be an upgrade from BBC, just the adverts…..

      1. Bigbadderboom
        22nd April 2011, 15:15

        Really RIISE you think SKY would cover F1 better, i’m not sure, personally I think their motorsports efforts are poor.

        1. Very American I suspect, the BBC’s production is better than a lot of the crap Sky Sports shill out.

          Sky have deliberatley low production costs so they can spend more money on rights.

    2. A few years back Sky did have F1 and charged as a pay-per-view. They offered a season pass which actually got more expensive as the calendar progressed. They had multi-views showing data and cockpit cams. It flopped, as ITV showed the races for free. If $ky ever got their hands on it again, it will be the end of F1 in the UK.

  7. Happy Birthday to Fixy and Kaylee911!!!! Have a gr8 day :)

    1. From me as well! Happy Birthday!

      1. Thank you all!

        1. Happy Birthdayzzzzz!

    2. Happy birthday!

      1. Happy birthday!

        1. A bit late, but happy birthday! :)

  8. if it goes pay-per-view then I´m screwed. I think they´ll lose a LOT of their viewers.

    1. They’ll lose me, sadly.

      1. We only need to look at rallying these days, to see what would happen to F1 on pay per view or satelite TV. :(

  9. …Tavo and I both didn’t want to happen was for this to be just like everything else that is out there right now

    Well, then you should have not made that track 5.5 kilometers long, for crying out loud. If there is anything that screams out “this track is bland” it’s a size of five kilometers.

    1. Can someone explain how 5.5km = bland?

      1. Well, I idea being that all Tilke tracks are same length, same lap times, same pretty much everything… though I imagine that local organizers have rather little say about that – there’s obviously a desire at work (on the part of Ecclestone or the FIA or both) to standardise lap times, I suppose likely because they feel it makes the sport more understandable and accessible for the casual but moneyed fan.

        1. Bernie reckons attentionspans wonder at tracks if they don’t see cars every 90 seconds.

  10. So winning the F1 championship in GT5 will give you an almighty Lotus Seven Fireblade now :)

  11. Ugh. I can’t think Bernie is above making this deal happen I’m afraid. I would definitely not be watching F1 anymore. Oh well. More time for other things I guess…

  12. That was the lamest advert ever.

    1. Truly–and I like Lewis.

    2. Meh – I’ve seen worse. In fact I see worse every day. Besides, adverts are lame pretty much by definition…

      1. I can’t think of a lamer advert right now, but you are clearly right that as lame and fake as this seemed, there is worse around.

  13. Murdoch and social networking? Wait, that rings a bell.

    1. Just you wait for f1space.com ;)

  14. Caterham, huh? That seems a little bit odd. And yet, entirely in character – they wanted a brand with history attached to it when they entered under the Lotus banner.

    If this goes ahead and we get Team Caterham, I wonder if they’ll change their livery …

    1. I wonder if he could change the name from Caterham to ‘Team Lotus Cars’ if he wins the court case that is…

      1. No, because Group Lotus – who own Lotus Cars – are sponsoring Renault. Fernandes has nothing to do with them. He did in 2010, because the Lotus in Lotus Racing was actually Lotus Cars, but he does not anymore.

        1. Ha ha… that was really confusing :)

          I know the story, I’m wondering if he’d have the legal right to call them ‘TEAM lotus cars’

          1. He’d have no right at all because he doesn’t own Lotus Cars. He’s trying to prove that Group Lotus has no claim to the Team Lotus name. The last thing he wants to do is rename the team in a way that impedes on the one Lotus name they certainly do own.

          2. Okay, so what if he wins the right to use the ‘Team Lotus’ name, and then names the Caterham car company ‘Team Lotus Automobiles’ and renames the cars “teams lotus super 7’s”.
            Then of course, he goes on and on about how the original ‘Team’ Lotus is finally reunited with the original ‘Team’ Lotus automobile company which is what Colin Chapman always ‘Originally’ wanted.

            …get my drift?

          3. It still can’t be done. Lotus Cars is a recognised brand controlled by Group Lotus. Fernandes can’t call his team or Caterham by the name of Lotus Cars. And it’s likely that Group Lotus will have the IP on the likes of Lotus Automobiles and any other variation to stop people infringing upon their name.

          4. i guess if he wins the right to use the ‘team lotus’ name it would probably be limited to racing only, an it wouldn’t allow him free use of he name. Given the grounds that Ford were going to sue Ferrari over, he’d be mad to try it. I just wouldn’t put anything past Fernandez. Have you ever heard of the saying more money than brains?

          5. Just remember what Ferrari went through with F150… and you’re realise calling your car company Lotus is a bad idea ;)

          6. i guess if he wins the right to use the ‘team lotus’ name it would probably be limited to racing only, an it wouldn’t allow him free use of he name.

            Exactly. Team Lotus only exists for the purposes of racing. Even if such a ruling allowed him free use of the Lotus name, he would still be unable to use it to build cars because Lotus Cars already exists and the courts will not give Fernandes control of the marque because he has no claim to it.

    2. If he loses the court case, then he can always change the name of the F1 team to “Caterham” in line with the cars. Maybe he’s hoping for some synergy. Use the F1 connection to market the cars, use the manufacturer status to gain some cachet.

      1. Like I said, it’s in-character: find a marque with some history attached to it, buy it, and then pass yourself off under that name as if you always had it.

      2. I just don’t get it, sure Caterham’s are based on a Lotus 7, but a Caterham is so far removed from a modern Formula 1 car, that I don’t understand how a deal would benefit either party. In cannot see how aligning the Caterham brand with a modern day Formula 1 team, is going to sell them anymore cars.

        1. It’s not about selling road cars.

          As separate as they are today, Caterham has its origins within Lotus. If Fernandes can’t have the Lotus name, then a Lotus-by-proxy is the next best thing.

          1. Yep. And the really strange thing is that the team would then technically join ranks with Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, and possibly Renault as a constructor rather than privateer team.

          2. Eh, at least it will bring an end to the court case. I admit support for Group Lotus, but only because they haven’t been shooting their mouths off about how “the good will always eventually win”. And I expect the team would be rebadged as “Team Caterham” to try and offset the loss of the Lotus name. But if they want to be serious about it (instead of petty), they should probably go for something like “Caterham Grand Prix Engineering” and change the livery.

            Though it would be a bit weird seeing Caterham on the grid, since they’re not really a super-prevalent marque. When I think of car manufacturers that could (and should) appear on the grid, I think of Koenigsegg and Pagani and Jaguar, not Caterham. While they’re not a completely poor fit for the sport (like, say, Dacia or Geely), they’re not exactly synonymous.

          3. I think you’re onto something with Dacia! :-)

          4. I think you’re onto something with Dacia!
            Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Geely – or someone else from China. Organisers for the Chinese Grand Prix changed their pricing policy for 2011, and there were massive crowds on hand. Add in the exciting race, and you can see why there is a lot of potential for the sport to grow in China.

            Meanwhile, we’ve got Hispania threatening Virgin and comfortably making the 107% margin. It would not surprise me if a Chinese investor bought into the team. It would mean Cabarante would have to cede control, since Chinese law dictates that when entering into a business partnership with a Chinese national, the Chinese partner must hold the controlling stake in the enterprise. Hence, the team would likely be renamed and would compete under a Chinese racing licence. And with Ho-Pin Tung eligible for a Superlicence (one that’s good for four races), I can see Hispania being a very attractive prospect for Chinese ivnestment.

          5. Went on Companies House after reading article:

            01593504 TEAM LOTUS LIMITED
            07535146 TEAM LOTUS BIKES LIMITED
            07535190 TEAM LOTUS HOTELS LIMITED
            07535209 TEAM LOTUS JETS LIMITED
            02998306 TEAM LOTUS VENTURES LIMITED

            Is it not possible that TF and Team Lotus won the court case?

          6. Do you hear Tony Fernandes crowing about it? If he won the court case, he’d be straight on the interweb telling everyone about it.

          7. There’s an embargo on it apparently so he cant “crow” about it

          8. The embargo applies to the media. It’s to keep things quiet while the judge decides because the media tend to take sides. Fernandes hasn’t said anything because he doesn’t know – the embargo will only be lifted when a verdict is passed.

  15. Hahahaha…

    I can’t wait to see the size of the shoe-horn they use to get smoke into that Mclaren!

    1. hahah COTD!!!

    2. The Last Pope
      22nd April 2011, 4:32

      He will be ok, They still have J P Montoya’s 2006 Mclaren seat ;)

    3. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      22nd April 2011, 5:55

      So true, this will also be interesting to see how well Lewis can drive a car with doors, I imagine he should do better than Speed or Montoya

  16. Well all Tilke circuit are abnormal.

    Hallard do have a good point & we may see that effect soon.

  17. Re COTD: In China, it was actually a race victory decided by an easy pass in the last few laps of the race; caused by the tyres. However, given the tyres benefit to the rest of the race, no-ones calling for one-stop-tyres to be reintroduced. It is, and will be, exactly the same with DRS I reckon.

    Hell, for the ease of the pass in China it would have been harder to DRS and pass for Lewis.

    1. I have to respectfully disagree with you there. Lewis and Sebastian had a good battle for a couple of laps before lewis got past, so it wasnt a piece of cake breeze-past-on-the-straight pass. Also, the difference between the tires and the DRS is that the tires are a level playing field, and the DRS is not. Vettel was put in a position where he couldnt stop Lewis from getting past because he opted for track position over speed (i.e., a 1 stop strategy), not because some contrived aero-handicap served him up on a platter, so to speak.

      1. *correction… “i.e., a 2-stop strategy”

  18. DRS has got to go. I’m surprised that so many people are now embracing it now, but mark my words… as soon as we have a race victory decided by an easy DRS pass in the last few laps of the race, the fans and the media alike will be calling for it to be scrapped.

    I disagree with this. In order to work effectively, the DRS zone needs to be some 750m in length. There are no circuits where the finish line is at the end of a straight of 750m. In fact, Shanghai is probably the only circuit on the calendar with a DRS zone close to the finish line. On every other circuit, a DRS pass will happen at the very beginning of the lap, giving the driver who was passed plenty of opportunities to try and reclaim the position.

    This just sounds to me like a specious argument to justify dislike of the DRS. Saying that it should be dropped because it might happen is like saying we should put up a shield to protect ourselves from meteors from hitting earth and wiping us out – sure, it might happen, but the conditions necessary for it to happen are highly specific and unlikely to pass without warning; the only “easy DRS passes” we’ve seen have taken place when the attacking driver is already clearly faster than his quarry, and thus would have made the pass work without the DRS being active.

    1. Saying that it should be dropped because it might happen is like saying we should put up a shield to protect ourselves from meteors from hitting earth and wiping us out – sure, it might happen, but the conditions necessary for it to happen are highly specific and unlikely to pass without warning

      What? You’ve totally lost me there. The point im trying to make is this: think about last weekend’s Chinese GP, where Hamilton reeled Vettel in with newer tires (and therefore superior pace). Imagine if Hamilton had passed Vettel in the DRS zone without any difficulty. Vettel, being on very worn tires would never have been able to fight to reclaim the position, as you put it (just as he wasnt able to after he was passed in the actual GP). Can you tell me with a straight face that such a situation would not have made the race (and the result) less enjoyable than it actually was? One could argue that Lewis was able to win the Chinese GP because of “easy DRS passes” on other drivers in earlier stages of the race, but the fans and media would never percieve that in the same light as an equivalent pass for the lead of the race in the closing laps.

      On every other circuit, a DRS pass will happen at the very beginning of the lap, giving the driver who was passed plenty of opportunities to try and reclaim the position.

      The problem with that is that in almost all instances where 1 car is trailing another car with >1 sec between them, the trailing car will be fast enough once they get past to make a couter-attack extremely unlikely.

      I can only speak for myself, but I like to see hard-fought passes in F1, and that includes the tenacious defensive driving skill that makes it meaningful. Overtakes are meaningless to me if the driver being overtaken is not able to defend himself due to an aero-handicap. I think someone else mentioned this in another thread, but the DRS system as it is currently implemented is really no different than putting an electronic top speed governor on the car ahead.

  19. If the deal goes through (I hope it won´t) it will just create an internet movement such that you can see the races free through internet by means of some Iraqi or Chinese or other remote broadcaster.
    If you can do this today with CL football games, you should perfectly be able to do it with F1

  20. I can’t see F1 going PPV, the sponsors and fans would revolt especially.

    Terribly cheesy video from Hamilton and Stewart. The McLaren got a little more stick than Stewart’s car though!

    ‘Tradin’ paint’. Cringe.

    1. No way will the teams of the FIA allow worldwide coverage of F! by essentially one broadcaster, who in a large number of regions would be PPV. Its suicide, its not like football or other athletic sporsts which reside on the national psyche – kids dont go out in mass groups and play formula one like they do football.

  21. Happy Birthday!!!

  22. Thinking of making F1 pay per view is not going to attract younger viewers. All it will do is make less of an audience.

  23. I think the Murdoch/Slim bid on F1 is part of the game that is played in preparation of the Concorde Agreement negociations.

    Hasn’t Bernie already formally stated that
    1. The sport is not for sale
    2. It would never be sold to a broadcaster, because that would cause massive issues with the current broadcasters and with the sponsors of the sport and teams, all for their different but obvious reasons.

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