Renault, Lotus and Virgin to change names in 2012

2012 F1 season

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Bruno Senna, Renault, Buddh International Circuit, 2011

The long-standing row over the use of the Lotus name will finally be resolved next year.

The FIA’s Formula 1 Commission has approved changes which will see Lotus renamed as Caterham, paving the way for Renault to take the name Lotus from next year, according to the BBC.

A further change will see the Virgin team formally change their name to Marussia next season.

In May the High Court ruled Lotus had the right to the name Team Lotus, and not Renault, who are sponsored by car manufacturer Group Lotus. The pair have been in negotiations to resolve the dispute since then.

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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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86 comments on “Renault, Lotus and Virgin to change names in 2012”

  1. Also, Ferrari become McLaren, and Sauber will then be known as Ferrari.

    1. Indeed. How are the stats for Lotus going to add up!?
      I wonder what Sean Kelly (!/virtualstatman) will make of it all?

      1. They won’t be Team Lotus will they?

        Perhaps “Lotus Grand Prix”while Fernandes keeps the legal rights to use Team Lotus (but doesn’t use them)?

        1. I don’t believe they can call themselves “Team Lotus”

          However, I suspect I’m wrong. Or at least, no one would stop them if they did.

          1. If they resolve their differences and Lotus sell the Team Lotus name to Lotus (if you follow) then it’ll be weird. It’s bad enough that they decided to resurrect the Lotus name for a random team, but they impressed me by embracing ‘their’ heritage. Going to Group Lotus would at least keeps it in the family, but swapping the name across between teams is just strange and confusing.

      2. Number of points shouldn’t be a problem, that hasn’t changed…but will Lotus claim Renault’s championships (with Alonso) or Lotus’s wins (with Senna) or Benetton’s titles and wins (Schumacher, Berger, Herbert) going back to the days when they raced against both Lotus and Renault?!

        Good luck to anyone who’s compiling the stats for a 2012 season preview, let’s see if you all agree with each other…

        1. If the team becomes Team Lotus, then Senna’s I’d imagine. As they have been claiming heritage from that team. Therefor it makes sense that it’s a continuation from there.

          But then, if they become Lotus but not Team Lotus, Which would require them to buy the rights to the name which wouldn’t be cheap. Then they’d probably count as a new team in terms of stats should they go with just “Lotus”. Just because they are not in fact, Team Lotus.

          Or maybe not. The team isn’t changing hands, just applying for a name change. Other teams have done that and there stats have been continuous. I.e. Scuderia Marlboro Ferrari became Scuderia Ferrari or the Virgin change in this very article. In fact, This option weighs up, just because Group Lotus, the current teams owner, Won’t claim that it’s a new team, but a continuation of the old one. (To protect this years prize money). So really, it’s the same Renault as it was this and last year, which means, They should be claiming the same championships as the former Renault team, so I think. Alonso’s it should be/

          However, Renault doesn’t own the team despite the name, so that is remarkably unlikely as well. Added to the fact that Group Lotus are claiming the Team Lotus history (As they have been for many years).

          So in summary, I really have no idea!

          (Assuming that GL actually bought out Genii capital)

    2. You bloody funny sod. I spilled yoghurt on my keyboard!

  2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    3rd November 2011, 17:44

    Well so that sets some order and gets rid of the problems for the name… I wonder how it started but it was just a political issue.. new sponsors have finally settle this situation down.

  3. common sense prevailed. Marussia do worringly remind me of Midland F1 however. Shame to see a big name like Virgin go.

    1. yeah, but they did that with the livery already.

      1. And the Russian links… but you mean because it’s a supercar manufacturer and lots of name changes right? Like Spyker Midland F1.

        1. The thing about Midland is that they weren’t really Russian. Alex Shnaider, who owns the Midland Group, was born in St. Petersburg, but that’s about it (Shnaider himself is Canadian). The team competing under a Russian racing licence was little more than a symbolic gesture.

          Also, this techncially isn’t an ownership change. Virgin simply bought the naming rights to the Manor team. Marussia actually bought into Manor, with the trade facilitated by Virgin. Virgin’s name will disappear from the constructor name, but they will stay as a major sponsor. I believe this may have been Richard Branson’s plan all along, finding a young and promising manufacturer to ally with the team, but the timetable was moved up much faster than anticipated.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys I think you might well be right here about Virgin and its plans.

            Another name once again? What’s the occasion.

    2. Given Branson’s reluctance to spend big money, and using F1 only as a branding exercise, it’s probably a good thing that he makes way for a more serious operation (plus, good riddance to Wirth’s 100% CFD gamble!)

      1. good riddance to Wirth’s 100% CFD gamble!

        I was actually quite disappointed to see that go. If they’d given it a few more years to gather the data they needed to improve their CFD model, they could have been showing everyone the way forward.

        Although if they had given it a few more years, they’d probably have died a death before collecting said data.

  4. Makes things a little nearer I guess.

    Caterham will be over the moon about that!

        1. :D

          Wait, why are we happy about this?

          Oh, right…


  5. Didnt even know much about the situation until today,considering that im a big F1 Fanatic but if right its…

    Lotus = Caterham in 2012
    Renalut = Lotus in 2012

    If so then im really really upset to see the Renault name disappear F1,An iconic figure(For good & bad reasons) in Motorsport & always will be.

    1. disappear F1

      disappear from f1 apologises for the mistake

    2. @younger-hamii

      im really really upset to see the Renault name disappear

      It’s not all bad on that front – they will be engine suppliers to a third of the grid next year.

      1. and that’s precisely their involvement in their most successful era anyway

  6. So how confident are we these three teams will have the same names in 2012 as they will in, say, 2017?

    Assuming they’re all still on the grid…

    1. Maybe Renault (now Lotus) perhaps but I’m not so confident that “Caterham” or “Marussia” will make it in their current guises.

      1. I rather think Lotus might succumb altogether by then, if they do not start making a more sensible strategy.
        Marussia is there for a while, they are serious about their bussiness, but it will take them a while to get enough name for themselves.
        I think Fernandes is in with Caterham for a longer spell as well. After all, building up a brand, conquering the Asian markets with racing and road cars will take maybe a decade.

        I rather am curious about STR and HRT longterm.

        1. I really wish STR could be called Minardi again. :(

    2. In 2017 every team will be owned by a Middle Eastern prince or government; every race will be sponsored by a Middle Eastern bank; every track will be owned or operated by a Middle Eastern investment firm.

      1. Save for the European rounds which will be owned and operated by Santander

        1. Like a boss.

      2. And in 2027 Middle East will run out of gas, while teams will be taken over by various alien races from other planets.

        1. no just Chinese

    3. I can’t see (Virgin) Marrusia being called Marrusia, I think the car manufacturer are just in for the short term to get their name to the West, I had never heard of the Marrusia brand before so their plan has worked (on at least 1 person).

      (AirAsia) Team Caterham will still be there. I hope, I like this team regardless of name the best. I hope they have a yellow livery next season, just because and inverted Team Lotus livery would signal a fresh start, while having links to the old team, and it would look brilliant!

      Lotus. If the imaginary money dries up through £80m 4 year sponsorship deal with Genii, sponsorship of KV in the Indycar series, funding of the Lotus-LMP2 car for LeMan series – as well as building the infrastructure to manufacture 4 or 5 new cars on a big scale – then there’s a snowball in hells chance this team will be called Lotus in 2017!

      1. Aside from Mclaren and Ferrari, I wouldn’t bet on any of the others being in F1 in 2017 under their current guises.

        1. I reckon Mercedes will. And Williams will limp on- if they were bought out nobody would allow that name to die I reckon. Sauber could survive too. I wouldn’t even be surprised is Force India keep their name.

    4. Lotus I cannot see staying around; Dany Bahar’s rather silly business model will almost certainly crash and burn before 2017, especially in the current economic climate.

      Caterham, on the other hand…well, I’m pretty certain that a team owned by Tony Fernandes that uses the resources of the current Caterham team in Norfolk (he may eventually get around to moving them out to Malaysia, I do not expect it to happen though) will be there. What it will be called…well, Caterham is the most likely option. I could see it being Lotus though.

      About Marussia, I have no idea.

  7. Also worth noting, as Vijay Mallya indicated last week, Force India will officially remain as Force India and not Sahara Force India.

    1. But in the official sponsor name will it be Sahara Force India? Like Ferrari used to be Scuderia Ferrari Cigarette Brand?

      1. Exactly – “Sponsor Chassis-Engine”

        He compared it to ‘Vodafone Mclaren-Mercedes’ in his speech.

        1. Or Petronas Mercedes GP

        2. Force being their chassis, and India their motor supplier :-)

          1. MJ4: Love that!

    2. The whole team naming business has become ridiculous in the past 12 months. It’s so complicated! I found it confusing enough when Jaguar became “Red Bull”…

  8. Finally. I was confused enough as it was when I started watching F1 in ’06 with two Red Bull teams! Can’t imagine what it was like for the poor souls this season.

  9. So that’s the third name change in two…three years for Team Lotus (Lotus Racing > Team Lotus > Caterham) and Virgin (Manor > Virgin > Marussia). I hope they’ll stick to the new names for a while…

  10. Well it’s that’s better than Lada, Proton, and well, Virgin always sounded a bit silly.

    1. Yep. I suppose the whole “Virgin” enterprise sounds a bit silly though, doesn’t it? :P

      One wonders what was going through Sir Richard’s mind…

      1. @damonsmedley I actually remember reading once that Branson has used the name Virgin for his business ventures because it dates back to his first business, which was a record store in London. He chose the name because he had no experience running a business, and thus, was a virgin entrepreneur.

        1. @xxiinophobia

          Thanks! I was hoping someone smart would reply. Interesting. It’s funny, because the whole “Virgin” empire doesn’t sound too strange any more. It must have been a bit unusual when it started though, was it not?

          1. @damonsmedley I don’t know, you’d have to ask him. :p

  11. At least now Lotus will have a British flag above the door, you know, like they should.

    1. Yeah absolutely! It’ll be nice to have another British Team with a British name to go with it.

      1. Yeah, a real British name like Benetton!

        -er, wait…

      2. I’m quite sad about it, actually. I loved having Renault as a constructor and I’ll miss them, as they’re only really an engine supplier again now.

  12. So Renault are engine suppliers for Lotus, Caterham, Red Bull and Williams next season. But not one of them will be named as Renault?

    I wonder how this stands up against the customer car row which seems to be brewing too.

    1. It worked fine like that in the 90’s. It’s the way it should always be, I think.

    2. Have to agree with @ajokay there. There is no need to have a work team and the way things currently are, the car producer Renault profits more from Red Bull ruling the F1 world than from their own works effort.

    3. @sumedh This sort of ridiculousness requires Clive James to narrate the 2012 season review.

    4. So Renault are engine suppliers for Lotus, Caterham, Red Bull and Williams next season. But not one of them will be named as Renault?

      Cosworth supplied Virgin and Hispania this year, but neither of them are known as Cosworth. So I don’t see why this is a big deal.

  13. So it will be Caterham Team Air Asia in GP2 and Air Asia Team Caterham in F1?

  14. I suggest, to avoid confusion, we continue naming Lotus Lotus and Renault Renault until December 31st, 2011.
    From January 1st, 2012 we can call Lotus Caterham and Renault Lotus.

    1. Obviously @prisoner-monkeys will refuse to use the name “Lotus” for the “Fernandes team” :P

      1. Why? They’ll now be known as Caterham. The Autosport makes it pretty clear that Renault will be the only team known as Lotus in 2012.

        1. Now I get the trick with the names @prisoner-monkeys! Just as these teams are now doing a merry-go-round you do the same, am I right? Nice idea then.

          I think its rather a bad choice to pull in “Autosport” as the experts here, as they were the ones getting scolded by their readers for putting in an edition reffering to the Renault team as Lotus in a glossy filled with big Lotus ads (and getting offered drives in Lotus cars), putting their journalistic neutrality in serious doubt.

          I would rather say, that ALL serious media are reporting the F1 commision agreed on the name chassis name changes to go ahead (Virging -> Marussia, Lotus -> Caterham and Renault -> Lotus).
          Fernandes clearly stated, that his team will have Caterham in its name next year instead of Lotus. And the Renault badge will surely be replaced by a Lotus team name.

        2. @prisoner-monkeys

          The Autosport makes it pretty clear that Renault will be the only team known as Lotus in 2012.

          1. @fixy

            I was responding to this post:

            Obviously @prisoner-monkeys will refuse to use the name “Lotus” for the “Fernandes team” :P

            And not this post:

            I suggest, to avoid confusion, we continue naming Lotus Lotus and Renault Renault until December 31st, 2011.
            From January 1st, 2012 we can call Lotus Caterham and Renault Lotus.

            When I said that.

          2. @prisoner-monkeys you’ve always called Lotus the “Fernandes Team” or something similar, because you refused to identify them as the original Team Lotus (something I also do). I was saying we should call them Lotus until 2012, from then on we should call them Caterham, and I remembered you wouldn’t call them Lotus anyway :P

  15. see Lotus renamed as Caterham, paving the way for Renault to take the name Lotus from next yea

    After all of that fuss…

  16. So, will “new Lotus” be green?

    1. Don’t expect they will, after succesfully poaching one livery from the real deal already, they should at least stick with that. And its shiny and glitzy, exactly how Bahar likes them!

      1. I believe Tony Fernandes has said that they’ll keep the green design because of the connections to Caterham.

        The entire point of this name change was to separate the two teams. Having just cleared the waters, I don’t think Renault will muddy them again by running a similar livery to Caterham.

        I’d actually like to see them do something similar to this year’s DAMS design (which was similar to the R30, but cleaner):

        1. I agree with you, that the Renault team wants to build a brand and is likely to stick with a livery similar to what they have now.

          Would be teriffic if they went for that yellow/black one, it looks really good.

  17. So if that’s the case then why did Tony & his team gone to court & create all this drama,could have spend the money in a better place.

    1. if I’m not wrong; it is Group Lotus who initiated the legal battle

    2. Because he wanted to gain as much as he could before losing the Lotus tag. He knew he couldn’t hold on to it, so he played the waiting game.

      I don’t if you noticed, but Justice Smith told Fernandes during the July hearing (second Lotus vs. Lotus case) that had he known about purchase of Caterham and crossbranding with Team Lotus, he could have ruled against Fernandes entirely. That’s why it has been all resolved. Ethics of such conduct from Fernades are at least questionable.

      1. *I don’t know if you noticed

  18. Williams to be re-branded KR Racing ? :)

    1. Toro Rosso to be rebranded as “Red Bull 2”? :D

      1. Like Williams would drop out with a sensational name like that even though they are doing badly Red Bull 2 is an awful name.

  19. I think Renault will be Lotus Renault like this year but Team Lotus will no longer exist

    1. I think that was Renaults sponsors will they didnt want to have 2 lotuses teams, like it says in this arcticle Team lotus will be caterham

  20. Given the fact that the team is still own by the same person Or I would say the same license will this name change will affect their F1 statistics? For example will Caterham & Marussia will have 38 race start for them before the start of 2012? or will they be 0?

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