Lotus confirms purchase of Caterham

2011 F1 season

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Lotus Caterham announcement, Duxford, 2011

Lotus has confirmed it has bought car manufacturer Caterham.

The team made the announcement in an event at the Duxford aviation museum.

Team principal Tony Fernandes said to “watch this space” for details on whether the move might lead to a re-naming of the team.

The Caterham Seven has been in production for over 50 years and is based on the design of the Lotus Seven.

Fernandes said: “Caterham has a unique place at the heart of the motoring world. As well as being proudly and staunchly British, it has an enviable and uniquely unblemished reputation within the industry for performance, handling and engineering excellence.

“Caterham Cars has remained wholly faithful to Colin Chapman’s philosophy of ‘less is more’, and the DNA of the original Seven can still be traced to the newest additions to Caterham’s product offering.”

Caterham’s managing director Ansar Ali said: “The acquisition of the company by Team Lotus Enterprise will allow our existing management team to take Caterham’s core spirit of pure driving enjoyment to a hitherto un-served audience.

“While the Seven will now have the global springboard it deserves and will continue to be evolved yet further, we also have the opportunity to expand the Caterham family beyond the Seven and SP/300.R and breathe new life into our uniquely respected brand and mature it into a truly global business.”

Heikki Kovalainen drives a Caterham Seven

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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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68 comments on “Lotus confirms purchase of Caterham”

  1. George Suddaby
    27th April 2011, 12:20

    Good news :)

    Quick typo keith. In the fourth paragraph, last word, you’ve put “seve.” instead of “seven.” :)

  2. In the age of the Internet, you are likely to hear the rumblings of thunder, long before you see the bold of lightening.

    1. Bolt too.
      In the age of the Internet, Typos are a necessary evil.:-)

      1. Along with pretentious over dramatisation.


        1. It was a dark and stormy night, edit buttons fell in torrents. When it was checked by the user, rattling along the comments section (for this was the interwebs), rumours across the pit lane fiercely agitating the scant flamewars of the Lotus that struggled against the dark Danny Bahar.

          Along with pretentious over dramatisation.

          DAMN IT! :(

  3. caterhamformula1.com/ Looks interesting… maybe the the court case didnt favour “green” lotus

    1. Nice spot: registered five days ago

      Does this look like an admission of defeat? I’d say it looks like it, but there again Air Asia were still selling Williams branded stuff on their internal flights last year, so he could still be keeping the options open!

    2. Registered by some James Dunford from Warminster via Tucows instead of NetNames like all the other TL domains. I call bogus.

      1. Probably someone trying to make a quick buck by domain squatting

        1. Course it wasn’t! :D

  4. Team principal Tony Fernandes said to “watch this space” for details on whether the move might lead to a re-naming of the team.

    I’d say yes. For months now Fernandes has been talking about how he is “so damned determined” to retain the Team Lotus name – but now he’s abruptly changed his tune and implied they might change it after all.

    1. He might have to change his auto-signature from “the good always win”.

    2. He might just add Caterham as a “title sponsor” to make it Caterham Team Lotus or something though!

      1. Except that the domain name “Sonangol Caterham F1” has been registered – and you can’t have two title sponsors (the “Sonangol Caterham Team Lotus” is likely there to stop people from trying to pass themselves off as the team). I know Virgin and Marussia are both considered to be sponsors, but Virgin is also the constructor. Fernandes can’t keep Lotus as the constructor and have Sonangol and Caterham ad title sponsors.

        1. He could have Caterham Lotus as the constructor but what really would be the point.

          1. I don’t think so. If Fernandes loses the court case he won’t be able to use the Lotus name at all. If he settled, it’s likely he would agree to stop using the Lotus name in any way, shape or form. But if he wins, the exercise in buying Caterham and the registering of the Sonangol Caterham names is completely pointless.

          2. Hewis Lamilton
            27th April 2011, 16:43

            The purchase isn’t pointless if he is planning to make road cars and run an F1 team. He can do both.

          3. yeah what would the point of calling it “Caterham Lotus”.. not like “Lotus Renault” has the same binomenclature..

          4. I guess that if he wins he can just use the Caterham connection to put in some extra logos on the car and promote Caterham to sell more cars.

            And then use the oil company as team sponsor. In case he does a settlement or loses it will probalby see a team Caterham on the grid.

        2. It makes perfect sense to buy all of those domains. Just like the rest of us, Fernandes has no idea what the outcome of the court case will be at this point, and he wouldn’t be a very good businessman if he didn’t have a backup plan in place in the eventuality that he might lose. If he doesn’t retain the rights to the Team Lotus name in the court battle, he now has a perfect plan b that isn’t Air Asia or 1Malaysia or anything like that, but something with a proper motorsport pedigree. Fans would be much more excited for a Caterham F1 team than Air Asia, and Fernandes is smart enough to understand that.

    3. I think it’s a good chance for Fernandes to play “innocent victim of the Group Lotus” role even further. It will definitely help his marketing. If he will lose, of course. If he’ll win, though… Well, to be honest, I don’t see any logical reason to keep “Lotus” name for Fernandes. AirAsia doesn’t produce Lotus cars, and Caterham Cars is a different brand, which, IMHO, Fernandes should promote instead of Lotus, because Lotuses are already being produced by Lotus Cars.

      1. I agree, why now would he want to use the lotus name and promote a different company than the one he has especially if going to build caterhams. Will be strange cause now even if wins court case can only see him rename the team.

  5. in my opinion, caterham is almost as far away from f1 as toyota.. or red bull!

    an interesting choice.. but it may work for them.. who knows!

    i also used to like tony fernandes.. he seemed like a pretty cool guy who doesn’t afraid of anything.. but the more crazy ideas that get thrown around, the more i begin to dislike him. surely he can’t just pick a name, and stick with it?

    1. in my opinion, caterham is almost as far away from f1 as toyota.. or red bull!

      Uh, you do know what a Caterham is, right? It’s not a Yaris. It’s pretty much the ultimate affordable track car for enthusiasts.

      And I don’t think you can reasonably turn people away from entering teams because they are “far away” from Formula 1.

      1. Personally I’d go for an Ultima GTR, but each to their own.

        1. Yeah, but Ultima is not and has never been owned by Lotus. That’s one of the pervasive theories of Fernandes’ ownership of Caterham – that he is going to use it as a platform to acquire the Lotus brand when Lotus’ latest strategy fails and the marque bankrupts itself. Of course, there’s no definitive proof that Lotus will fall flat on its face; the theory seems to be born out of a dislike for Dany Bahar (people still accuse him of trying to hijack the Lotus name from Fernandes even though there’s a lot of evidence to suggest Bahar was well within his rights to terminate the licencing agreement – see my LR8 theory in one of the round-ups), rather than any actual tangible proof that Lotus cannot turn a profit with their new strategy.

          1. The dislike for those Lotus Cars is not just dislike for Bahar, its economics as well.

            Investing money you do not have in more than trippling production while at the same time bringing out 4 new up market models and investing heavily in motorsports is just not good bussiness sense.
            Not to mention it leaves the current Lotus customer base nowhere, making success even less likely.

      2. Too right. Racing a Caterham is pure racing seat of the pants stuff. I reckon there is a great link into F1.

    2. 0-60mph in 3 seconds and faster round the top gear track than a Bugatti Veyron while sitting a few inches off the ground in an open top open wheel racer with no traction control or abs and no longer allowed in France is as close as the average man can get to formula 1. Especially when you can get a new Cateham 7 for under £20k!

      1. Why are they no longer allowed in France? Lack of safety equipment/air bags etc?

        1. It’s lack of pedestrian safety due to being open wheeled. We can also blame French pedestrian safety rules for why European Mazda mx5s have a higher ride height and less sporty ride than the Japanese models.

      2. Anyone care for a technical explanation of why Caterham is tied to Formula 1 more so than Toyota….. Here we go children….. come with me….

        Once upon a time a man by the name of Colin Chapman married a woman and eventually blah blah named his team Lotus or ‘Team Lotus’ for offic… blah blah.

        He also had a seperate company called Lotus cars which while run independantly, shared it’s name and founder aswell as his now (2011) much known philosphy of light weight design for cars.

        blah blah blah

        In 1957, Chapman designed a car that he called the 7 or Lotus 7 as it was built by his car company ‘Lotus’.

        Many moons later in 1972 or 73 or so Lotus sold the design rights to Caterham to build what would then be called the Caterham 7 (remember when it sold by Lotus, it was called the Lotus 7).

        Caterham continue to sell this car to this very day as it proves that Chapmans moto of adding lightness is as true today as it was back when it first built more than half a century ago.

        Caterham only makes the Caterham 7 and as such is seen as very much just a different name for a Lotus on the 7 model.

        Caterham is about as closely related to F1 as Lotus is was until they decided to change everything pretty much.

        Toyota on the other hand hasn’t ever had a history to do with Formula 1 and jumped onboard sometime in the early 21st Century.

        The only Japanese manafacturer who can really claim Formula 1 history is Honda. But that story is for anther day…….

        1. Im sure Subaru claim history in F1 also, but that stint isn’t really something they will be bringing up any time soon.

  6. What a cool name to get in F1! Caterham F1 – Nice!

    1. Possibly if it was independent from this mess. But if Fernandes is running it, especially under a different colour scheme it’s just going to scream:


      1. The Last Pope
        28th April 2011, 3:46

        And whats wrong with that? Most people do not see the team as the ‘real’ Team Lotus anyway. And I think most people would agree that Team Caterham would be a much better name for the team. Oh and they can use exactly the same livery as they do now.

  7. This does seem like an option for a name change if they loose the court case. If Caterham are “proudly and staunchly British” I wonder if they will change the registration of the F1 team to British if they change the name, but then personally I always viewed the original Team Lotus as British but that hasn’t stopped the current Team Lotus having a Malaysian registration.

    1. I reckon he’s gone all Anglophile on us since the Malaysian government stopped backing him.

      Quite funny really as he turned out to be a bit of an ass. British pride’s already a bit of a funny one but it ‘s getting a little painfull seeing Fernandes spout his British icons rubbish to win back lost approval. Especially as most British people and motorsport fans don’t really give a toss. You do wonder where Caterham F1 will be registered though.

      1. I think lobbing a CBE at him helped…

  8. hasn’t malaysia got it’s own fast stuff to name a team after?

    OK so Proton is taken

  9. Mark Hitchcock
    27th April 2011, 13:12

    Time to drag the Caterham name through the mud as well then is it?

    1. Haven’t you heard? All the cool kids are doing it this year.

  10. They should the team NAZA F1 & say it’s got nothing to do with Colin Chapman.

  11. Surely they can’t change name and livery during the year?

    1. Teams often change their livery during the year for promo’s.

      1. True, but it requires the consent of the other teams. Not sure if it has to be unanimous, but if Group Lotus want to play silly buggers, then it won’t be :(

      2. I’d be surprised if they do given the announcement of the special edition TL caterhams

  12. It’s a brilliant plan, especially considering the 2013 rule changes. He could put a modified F1 engine in there, imagine the sales pitch that would be for amateur racers! The Caterham 7 already has a 1.6l engine in it.

    From what I’ve read TF is looking quite strong to win the court case. Add to that Bahar’s very risky business strategy to throw Malaysian taxpayers money at acquiring Renault, perhaps throw more money at TF as a result of the court verdict or a highly unfavorable buyout of the Team Lotus name; then his plans to take Lotus Cars into the Ferrari niche market, I say in 5 years TF will be there to pick up the pieces.

    Gotta say I even prefer the ring of Caterham GP to Team Lotus.

  13. I am completely and utterly lost with this whole Lotus mess, and I am sick of hearing about it. And now this Fernandes is dragging another fine British name in to it. He is not going to be winning many friends in Britain.

  14. Icthyes in Larnaca Airport
    27th April 2011, 17:14

    My guess here is that Fernandes is either going to settle or this is his back-up plan. It would be a bit odd to buy Chapman history if he was going to settle though. Perhaps the case is going well and this is him cementing his position? Or trying to pre-empt the verdict in a way?

    In any case, obtaining a separate source of income is a smart thing to do for a small team like Team Lotus.

  15. So the idea is if they keep associating with Lotus then hopefully at some point it will stick? Its all getting a bit dis-tasteful now in everyone desperately trying to claim the name and this Colin Chapman legacy is a nasty thing too like the Disney purists, who knows what he would have done maybe built a super-powered Bentley-barge rival.

    Caterham is at best a fringe manufacturer and not really something to be basing an F1 team around, either way round it looks a bit odd to me anyway. A bike engined self build car and the most technological advanced race cars!? Hardly a match made in heaven and difficult to claim technological trickle down!

    1. Not bike-engined. You’re thinking of the Radicals. Caterham’s use Ford Sigma engines.

      1. Yes you are right HounslowBusGarage, sorry to all and must check facts in future.

  16. i guess that Caterham is quite a known name in UK, but in the rest of the world?
    Maybe Fernandes should restore the Litespeed name, all this thing of claiming a heritage from the Chapman family is making me sick. In the end, it’s just a Malaysian team based in England, you can buy the name but the ‘spirit’ is something else. Don’t get me wrong, I like Team Lotus and Fernandes’ commitment, but behind this unstoppable quest for ‘the Name’ I only smell the stink of money.

  17. I like that little Caterham car! Cool stuff! I agree with those who think that they should go with “Caterham F1” for their team and dump the whole “Lotus” thing. The other team will always be Renault, no matter what they call themselves.

  18. It seems a few people have completely missed the point to this whole Lotus and Caterham thing, Fernandes is just a very wealthy man with a passion for Motorsport the same as the CEO of Caterham is. (who was looking for investment and approached Tony first I may add – See Lotus Notes Caterham addition)

    What is so wrong with investment into a solid british brand to ensure its future, the plan is to increase over time the model lineup and its global appeal by using F1 as a promotional tool. The caterham name is not going to get dragged through the mud if anything it will cement the brand as what it is which just happens to be steeped in Lotus/Chapman heritage.

    The link is uncanny but as Caterham contacted Tony 1st I dont see that it was a strategic finger up to Lotus cars or anything to do with the court case; whether win or lose the Team Lotus name may dissapear anyway due to all the bloody squabbling, but Fernandes said from the outset that going into F1 was a precursor to producing road cars at some point. It wasnt the fault of Lotus Racing F1 that Lotus cars/Proton pulled the pin on the agreement they had.

    Fernandes seems to me like a genuine petrol head with money to spend with a vision of using british engineering history as a platform to make more money on a global scale; I fail to see any problems with that, in fact as a british F1 fan I am pleased to see names such as these resurrected and elevated on a global scale, and it would be awesome for my 2 favourite marques to be reunited one day……who knows!

    1. I like your take on this!

    2. COTD right here :)

  19. the following five domain names were registered by Net Names, the same company that hosts Team Lotus’ current domain: sonangolcaterham.com, sonangolcaterhamf1.com, sonangolcaterhamf1racing.com, sonangolcaterhamf1team.com and sonangolcaterhamteamlotus.com.

    Looks like he’s playing all the angles but Sonangol is in all of them…

  20. A caterham came the other way as I was driving the routes des grandes alpes route through France last year. Unless it was a Lotus Seven. Didnt have chance to look closely what with the closing speeds and all :D

    1. The Last Pope
      28th April 2011, 3:58

      Or it could have been a Westfield.

  21. The New Hope
    28th April 2011, 5:11

    The more I look at these cars, the more I like them! I think it would be cool if they just went with “Caterham” instead of Lotus. These little cars are super cool and I would love to have one for a hobby ride.

  22. It would be great to see Lotus win a race and when they win the championship I promise myself to buy a very expensive Team Lotus F1 car miniature!

    Good work Fernandes!

  23. Probably, they’re loosing rights to Lotus name in F1. Consequently Caterham is the best to carry on with.

    1. Possibly. But who can blame them?

  24. This genuinely is great news for all involved. Lotus are a great little team!

    This is business. I think some are a little naive of this.

  25. Here are our thoughts on this recent acquisition and why Caterham & Team Lotus will make a great team:


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