Fernandes: Group Lotus did their best to destroy us

2011 F1 season

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Lotus T128 and Caterham Seven, Duxford, 2011

Tony Fernandes says he drew motivation from Group Lotus’s attempts to “destroy” his team.

Speaking as Lotus announced its deal with Caterham at Duxford aviation museum he said: “Motivation comes from many different places.

“And a lot of motivation for where we are comes from Group Lotus, that had done their best to destroy us. So we get motivated in different ways.”

He joked that the Duxford planes “could be useful for all our court cases”, referring to the ongoing disputes with Group Lotus on Force India.

Fernandes said he would be happy for the team to finish tenth again in 2011. That would help Lotus secure its place as a “column one” team, which guarantees it a set amount of income:

“My objective was always tenth. My internal objective was something different. But if we have tenth we’re a column one team. To get to be a column one team was critical for me.

“But the tyres are new – which is good for us in some ways – the DRS is new, the KERS we don’t have. We don’t know how much development other people are going to put in at the same time as us.

“We should develop more than others because we’re coming off a lower base. So the potential is there but tenth would be good for me.

“Next year, I want to be eighth. That’s where we should be next year. But it’s important to be column one this year.

“We seem to be ahead of Virgin and HRT, who started this much earlier than us – they got their application much earlier than us.

“And we’ve done it the right way – we said we needed a wind tunnel, we said we needed CFD, we said we’ve got to have our own factory and build things properly in one place, and it seems be paying off.

“There are people there who have been there 30 years – some more – who are very smart and have been doing this for a long time. So we’re learning new techniques in the wind tunnel that some guys have been doing for 20, 30 years.

“But, with the right heart and the right passion, I believe anything is possible.”

Asked if he felt the team could improve on their performance in China, where they beat the Williams of Pastor Maldonado in a straight fight, he said: “I’m not a technical person but if it was a one-off then I better get out of this business!”

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    48 comments on “Fernandes: Group Lotus did their best to destroy us”

    1. Nothing would please me more than to see Team Lotus get ahead of Renault in a pure pace fight. Unlikely but still…

      1. Same. But judging from the way they are advancing today I believe by the end of their 5 yr plan they will be able to do that, and make history as one of the “best of the rest” teams that actually started from scratch, not by buying in other teams.

        1. Most teams on the grid are bought, not started from scratch.

          Ferrari, McLaren and Williams are all old.
          Sauber started from scratch but with the help of Mercedes.

          Red Bull, Renault, Force India, Torro Rosso and Mercedes are all bought out.

          Virgin and HRT aren’t going anywhere

          Really the only teams who have started from scratch by themselves have already won championships.

          Go Team Lotus though, want it to win, used to like Renault but now not due to GL

      2. I do so just for the fact that Fernandes started Lotus Racing in 2010 and in 2011 Lotus Cars copied him. It would be wonderful to have Renault and Team Lotus in F1, each by thier own, considering both have history.

        1. Fernandes “started” Lotus Racing with a support from Lotus Cars. That’s why team was named Lotus Racing in the first place. Without them he wouldn’t be related to a “Lotus” word at all.

          1. Exactly. Lotus Cars joined Renault because they felt Fernandes was mis-using their name and doing damage to the brand. Not because they saw the success Fernandes experienced and figured “anything he can do, we can do better”.

            1. The “damaging the brand” story was most likely GL-BS to get out of the contract. Also, Bahar actually did say they could do better by getting involved with Renault.

              Also, now i can’t get rid of that picture of Hamilton and Alonso running through a hotel. Thanks.

            2. There are not only an economic but also a personal tensions between Bahar and Fernandes. Both are businessmen who want to get profit. Lotus Racing was created to promote “Lotus Cars” brand, but Fernandes began his own game (it’s more obvious now, when he acquired “Caterham” brand and stated his plans of involvement into a cars manufacturing) and Group Lotus tried to get more control. I suppose, it may be called “a damage to the brand”, yes.

            3. Lotus Cars joined Renault because they felt Fernandes was mis-using their name and doing damage to the brand.

              They did it because they wanted a bigger cut of the cake. Young and ambitious F1 team was the best thing that happened to the Lotus brand in years.

            4. The “damaging the brand” story was most likely GL-BS to get out of the contract.

              Did you see my LR8 theory? Fernandes was planning on making an energy drink called LR8 (“Lotus Racing 8”), the logo of which appeared on the cars. But the logos mysteriously dropped off the car without explanation at the same time as Fernandes and Group Lotus went their separate ways in GP2, the first sign that trouble was afoot. If Fernandes used the Lotus name in an unapproved way – and the LR8 case is very strong evidence that he did – then Group Lotus were well within their rights to terminate the licencing agreement.

            5. @PM: We’ll see if they were in their rights to terminate the contract. Soon, i hope, it’s really getting a bit old. The LR8 theory is plausible, but considering the logos appeared in Melbourne ’10 i find it hard to believe it took GL several months to realize that this was somehow harming their brand.

            6. i find it hard to believe it took GL several months to realize that this was somehow harming their brand.

              Maybe they didn’t think to ask. After all, LR8 never actually went to the market; it was only ever going to be sold through the team, and it wasn;t going to be sold until later in the season. It’s entirely plausible that Group Lotus were unaware as to the nature of LR8 for months.

            7. They were in talks long before hitting out at Fernandes Lotus outfit.

              And Bahar himself stated he just wanted to get rid of Fernandes, as this startup team did not fit into GL strategy of being winners.

              Interesting you are so vehemently in support of Bahar.

    2. Yes Fernandes, Group Lotus tried to destroy you, but you were trying to break in and steal Group Lotus, through the back door.

      1. Steal? Planning to buy the company is hardly a steal. And what was the problem on selling it to him? They weren’t exactly making profit.
        They could still deny to sell if they wanted to, so it’s not like anyone was gonna steal anything from them at all.
        Bahar may lead them to even bigger destruction considering the money he squeezed out of Proton, Malaysian taxpayers and banks.
        If the guy fails all hell will break lose for the Proton company. While if they couldn’t make profit for the next few years and sold the team to Fernades, they would have made a good profit by the sell and Fernandes and us will have for the first time a full Lotus team on F1 and on the car market.

    3. Oh, enough with the rhetoric already, Tony. Have you noticed how you’re the only one making a song and dance out of it?

      It seems like every other week he’s sprouting some rubbish about how “the good always eventually win” and that they’re “more Malaysian than the other Lotus”, but his supposed mortal enemies have only mentioned the dispute once since it began, and that was to say they hoped a resolution could be found.

      I’m sorry, Tony, but talking the loudest and the most does not automatically make you right.

      1. I wondered when that comment would come. You’re more biased of Group Lotus than I am of Alonso.

        But isn’t what he says true? GL did try to buy him off with an insulting offer which in turn would’ve ruined Team Lotus. It’s more thn just words in this saga.

        I applaud Tony for standing his ground and establishing a new team despite all of the opposer’s.

        1. GL did try to buy him off with an insulting offer which in turn would’ve ruined Team Lotus.

          Group Lotus were willing to pay him the value of the Team Lotus name. Fernandes demanded nothing less than the value of the name plus the amount of money he would have received from FOM for finishing 10th in the 2010 WCC. Rather than enter negotiations with Group Lotus, Fernandes chose to shoot them down and then complain loudly about the offer.

          1. PM, i dont think fernandes is/was neccessarily compaining loudly about the offer.
            the point was, he wasnt happy about what he was offered. end of. nothing wrong with that.

            and lets be real, its not as if fernandes is calling press conferences with the purpose of bashing GL. news reports and press ask questions regarding the situation between fernandes and GL, his answers get published and you have a hissy fit because it seems like hes complaining when in actuality he’s just answering a question..

            1. the point was, he wasnt happy about what he was offered. end of. nothing wrong with that.

              No, there’s nothing with that. But Tony Fernandes has a reputation for being a very skilled businessman. Why didn’t he even try to negotiate with Group Lotus? They made him an offer. He shot it down. Why not try and get them to agree to more and end the conflict?

              The simple answer is that Fernandes had already decided what he was going to do before the offer was made. No matter what Group Lotus offered, he was always going to say no.

          2. Sure, GL is right for offering only a meagre 1 million (the amount payed for it at a far off moment in time when it was taken out by the last owners decades ago) but Fernandes is greedy if he wants the money he put in +all he would be giving up (the FOM money) through changing chassis name.

            You really are beating GLs drum for them PM. Taking their PR for real and doubting everything Fernandes says.

            1. I have reason to doubt Fernandes. He has consistently proven that the only thing he cares about is his image. It’s not enough that he is racing and that he is making progress were Virgin and Hispania are not – he has to do it as Team Lotus. Of the three young teams, his probably has the most credibility and the least need for a famous name. And yet he argues his case vehemently, almost violently so. Compared to Group Lotus, he has been very unprofessional, what with the constant outbursts and stinging attacks and accusations that they are the Evil Empire. At times, it feels like he’s doing it to convince himself that he is Team Lotus, rather than trying to convince the rest of us.

              And as for believing Group Lotus’ PR, I have to ask you: what PR? In all of this, they’ve only opened their mouths once, and that was for Gerard Lopez to say that they were hoping for a speedy resolution. They’re not the ones trying to turn the fans against the other team. They’re not the ones trying to make themselves out to be the underdog. They’re not the ones suggesting that they’re fighting a long and bloody war.

            2. You might not remember, but the first public smearing was headed from the Proton headquarters towards Fernandes.

              Sure Fernandes does what he can to persuade everyone of himself being right. GL did the same, just a tad less effective. Thing is, we havent heard any of them much since the court case got going.

              The PR i am referring to is about you being convinced Fernandes must have done something to deserve having the licencing deal recalled and being the bad guy. Something the courts are still to decide on.

              Fernandes getting in with the view of getting Lotus Cars and making a success of that as well in a few years time was fine. The company is making losses for the last decade.
              Only thing that happened is, Proton management committed themselves to another plan to do so themselves, making Fernandes an inconvienancy.

        2. True it was a ridiculous offer, but Fernandes is now admitting his original plan was to go into car production. Even if we assume Group Lotus is managed by Crocodiles and Sharks, it is seriously dishonest, to request for something and then attempt to do something else with it. Even attempt to take over the operation from the owner.

          1. Why is that dishonest. I guess he would have told them that was his intent for the coming years.

            Lotus is losing Proton a lot of money for decades. If someone turns it around, they would be rid of the loss or maybe even profit from the sale.

      2. You’re dancing along quite nicely, i’d say.

      3. “I’m sorry, Tony, but talking the loudest and the most does not automatically make you right.”

        Oh, the irony.

        1. I’m more right than the pro-Fernandes crowd. I actually have a theory as to what is happening between Group Lotus and Fernandes. The most Fernandes’ supporters can do is claim Group Lotus is managed by Satan.

          1. More Inspector Closeau than Satan. Bahar isn’t evil, just incompetent. Fernandes actually appears to have a business model that might work.

            1. Show me proof that Bahar’s won’t work.

            2. Why show proof, you would simply argue its not true PM.

              Sorry but I do not know of a single bussiness analist who feels positive about Bahars plans for Lotus Cars. They just don’t add up.

              The sales numbers he gives are just totally unrealistic. And the investments he has to make to get those new models desinged, built in sufficient numbers and marketed to sell the cars mean he has to triple car production to brake even, let alone make the company profitable.

              And to add to that he is throwing tons of money into motorsport at the same time. Best thing, its just the Malaysian tax payers money (why is it coming only from malaysian banks?).

              Taking on Ferrari is a tough job for VW with Porsche and Lamborghini. It is hardly realistic for a small company the size of Lotus Cars to do it in only a few years.

    4. I’m really getting tired of his moaning and whining

    5. I’m pretty tired of this arrogance now actually. It’s like a bitch fight straight out of secondary school.

      1. I agree, I’m a fan of Team Lotus but I wish that Fernandes would just shut his mouth sometimes.

    6. “Done their best to destroy us”? It’s clear they’re just fishing for the sympathy vote, which I can’t stand.

    7. Both Bahar Lotus and 1Malaysia are as bad as each other. They should just stop complaining, call themselves Renault and Caterham respectively and stop moaning and mud-throwing.

      1. Sound_Of_Madness
        27th April 2011, 17:26


      2. I agree. This Fernandez fella should realize what he’s got instead of the tiny amount he can’t get – or in my opinion shouldn’t even want to.

        An underdog F1 team becoming quite respectable quite quickly, two committed drivers with skill, a good livery and now an underdog sportscar manufacturer.

        Arrange a settlement, go with ‘Caterham’ and race. Everything about this team makes them fun to follow, except for the naming confusion and moaning about it.

      3. Totally agree, COTD right here!

        Honestly, I think this has simply shown that the Lotus name is just too prestigious, and nobody should be able to use it in F1, with the possible exception of a zombie Colin Chapman ;)

    8. Tony Fernandes does make me cringe a little but I do like him. He’s a businessman before a racer/team owner and it does show. However, he seems a bit more grounded as of late.

      I do really hope good things come to them. They’re a great little team and it will be great to watch their reserve drivers battle it out this year. Battle it out for what though i’m not sure of!

    9. Never heard the term “column 1” team before. Does it refer to something like a standings page where there’s only room for 10 teams per column?

      1. yeah thats what i was thinking.. something to do with FOTA?

        1. Geordie Porker
          28th April 2011, 11:05

          I get the impression (but don’t know) that there are tiers in the payment structure – we already know that the teams are paid based on how many points they score and how high they finish in the final table etc etc. [prize money]
          But I get the impression that there is then another amount of money paid which is a fixed sum for competing in the whole championship – in other words, if you are ‘column 1’ (or ‘tier 1’ as any other organisation would call it!) you get £XXM* for turning up, if you are ‘column 2’ you get less.
          *knowing Bernie, probably £2.50 (no, not in millions!) ;-)
          Would love to ffind out if my supposition is true…Keith – any way of finding out?

          1. Nope, there isn’t. This simply means that only the first 10 teams share in the prize money. Teams ending in 11th and 12th place (HRT and Virgin in 2010) don’t get anything.

            So “column 1” – I think – is simply referring to the first 10 teams that get a piece of the cake. So HRT and Virging would be in an imaginay column 2, where you don’t get anything.

            10th place is said to be worth £17.000.000.
            If Team Lotus would change its name, it would lose this amount. How is it difficult to understand that Tony didn’t simply want to give up on this amount?

    10. He didn’t even expand on what he meant by Group Lotus trying to destroy them, and then it becomes the headline of this article after being about 1% of what he talked about

      1. He didn’t even expand on what he meant by Group Lotus trying to destroy them

        Take a wild guess…

        1. When Group Lotus took them to court?

          It’s funny, because I seem to recall Fernandes being the one to start legal action. I’m racking my brains here, but I can’t for the life of me recall an instance of Group Lotus launching a smear campaign. Like I said, the only time they spoke on the subject was when Gerard Lopez said they were hoping for a quick resolution and that he, personally, thought that the issue was not the Team Lotus name, but the money Fernandes would be entitled to from last year.

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