Lotus to keep name until 2017 despite losing title sponsorship

2012 F1 season

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Lotus say they will retain their current name for at least another five years, despite losing their title sponsorship from Group Lotus.

Lotus, which previously competed as Renault, agreed a title sponsorship deal with car manufacturer Group Lotus in 2010.

It took Tony Fernandes’s Team Lotus to court over the right to use the Lotus name last year, and lost.

The team later reached reached a settlement with Fernandes’ outfit which saw the latter rebrand as Caterham and Renault take over the Lotus name.

However the loss of its sponsorship deal with Group Lotus will not mean another change of identity in F1. A team spokesperson told F1 Fanatic it could continue doing so beyond 2017.

The team added there will be no immediate changes to the Lotus branding on its cars.

Genii owner Gerard Lopez told Autosport: “The sponsorship agreement and the obligations of Lotus have been terminated. There is no option from Group Lotus to buy into F1 now – that option was taken over by us. There was one, but we have taken it over now.”

2012 F1 season

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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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112 comments on “Lotus to keep name until 2017 despite losing title sponsorship”

    6th April 2012, 11:07

    My brain hurts just from reading that.

    1. Same here. I didn’t even know that Group Lotus stopped sponsoring Lotus.

      1. @slr

        I didn’t even know that Group Lotus stopped sponsoring Lotus.

        Nobody did until about two hours ago when the team announced it.

        1. Oh – I imagined they’d stopped sponsoring them weeks ago or something and I missed it.

          1. That may be true, but this is the first time it has been announced.

          2. This has actually been known for almost a month.Here is a quote from an Adam Cooper article on Speed’s website on March 13th:

            COOPER: Season Of Possibilities For ‘Lotus’

            What hasn’t been widely appreciated yet is that having won the rights to use the Lotus name in F1, Genii and the team no longer have sponsorship from Group Lotus, when we were originally told that it would be an ongoing deal.

            “We have an agreement today for the name, and as far as the sponsorship agreement is concerned, that has been cleared,” says Lopez. “We are essentially in a situation where they don’t owe us anything anymore. They’re not title sponsor, they are a name provider, they are a partner. We are working with them on a number of things. Honestly, it’s a win/win situation because it clarified a lot of things.”

            But wasn’t the whole point of the name change the fact that Group Lotus would continue to pump in funds?

            “No, they don’t have to,” says Lopez. “They were the title sponsor, and it’s actually been solved in a completely different way. They have and they don’t have to anymore, they’ve done what they have to do, to be very precise.”

            The bottom line is that the current Lotus F1 team is in a very similar situation to the Fernandes-era Lotus. It has acquired an attractive brand name which will help it to gain credibility and sell sponsorship, but is getting no financial support – and is thus promoting the Lotus road car division for free.

            “That’s essentially it, yeah,” said a smiling Lopez

          3. Thanks for that Diogenes, very interesting. Can’t say I like the way the current Lotus F1 team management thinks terribly much, if I go by that. I do wish the Enstone team good luck though.

      2. xeroxpt (@)
        6th April 2012, 16:43

        I only knew because of the engine issues Lotus had on Indy but I didnt knew had a clue about details.

    2. Total farce.

      This whole sorry affair shows how little respect they have for one of the biggest names in F1. They’re a multi title winning team, and have produced another great car this year. If only the suits were as diligent as the race team.

      1. @bleeps_and_tweak – As several other users have pointed out, Gerard Lopez has been named as a prospective buyer of Lotus Cars on a pretty consistent basis. This may be an attempt to sever all ties with the manufacturer so that he can then turn around and buy it without anyone claiming a conflict of interests.

        1. @PM I hope this or some other positive plan is in place for this that we just aren’t privy to. Too much nonsense and drama to have nothing come of the Lotus debacle.

          Glad I didn’t buy into the heated debates and arguments about Lotus last year (and that was just naming). What a waste of energy that all was.

        2. @prisoner-monkeys I’ll be honest I’ve read this article and the Telegraph link below, and I still don’t fully understand who owns what anymore.
          It just seems to be more than a little sacrilegious to have a name like Lotus, one of the most prominent in all motorsport, being constantly bought, sold, transferred etc. Add on to that the fact that the Enstone F1 team are doing such a fantastic job on the track, whilst off it they are changing hands more often than a game of pass the parcel.
          Hopefully Lopez, or someone can put all of the pieces of the puzzle back together and provide a truly secure future for what is a iconic name, and an excellent current F1 team.

    3. Lotus, which wasn’t Lotus until Lotus changed his name to Caterham, will still be Lotus despite losing Lotus as sponsor. Simple.

      1. GeordiePorker
        6th April 2012, 16:42

        ^ what he said! LOL

      2. COTD!!!!!

  2. However the loss of its sponsorship deal with Group Lotus will not mean another change of identity in F1. A team spokesperson told F1 Fanatic it could continue doing so beyond 2017.

    The team probably know better than I do on this subject, but I believe that when Group Lotus settled with Tony Fernandes last year, the rights to the Lotus name transferred to their ownership. If this is the case, then in the event that someone buys Group Lotus/Lotus Cars and they do not want to be associated with Lotus F1 – particularly if the prevailing view is that Dany Bahar’s plans led to the company’s collapse – then the team may be forced to change their name.

    1. Who’s ready to put some money on Fernandes buying Group Lotus and suing Lotus ?

      1. You would lose a lot of money if you did that sir

  3. I guess this means that Lopez wants to open up to a paying main sponsor. And don’t forget he is still in the running for actually buying Group Lotus, when the chance arrives.

    1. Agree, the F1 team take over aspirants must be keeping a watchful eye on this team.
      I would love to Virgin get out of Marrussia and put there money here instead.

      1. There’s virtually no Virgin money in Marussia these days. They have one tiny logo on the airbox and that’s it.

        1. Can’t see Virgin being interested anyway, F1/major sports aren’t really their style of advertising, too expensive and their product range is too broad.

          The team was only an experiment/vanity project, and they clearly don’t think it was worth it.

  4. This business with Lotus confuses the life out of me, even Kimi doesnt know who hes racing for!

    1. He don’t care

    2. Yeah but Kimi doesn’t care what the team is called either. So long as the car is fast.

      They could rename the team the Flying-Spaghetti-Monster (Renault) team and he’d climb aboard without so much as a raised eyebrow.

      That’s why I like Kimi. No drama, he just gets on with it.

      1. Well said! Unlike Grosjean he actually drives the car…Silly Grosjean, hw probably is more intent on smiling than the actual racing lol.

        1. that is such a dumb comment, all it shows is your hate of “Silly Grosjean”

      2. I think you could apply that criteria to any driver on the grid. They all want a fast car.

        1. Maybe excluding Ferrari for some @andrewtanner but for the most part quite true.

  5. Talk about achieving the worst outcome possible from sponsorship in F1. Group Lotus have only managed to generate bad press in this whole sad episode.

  6. There… there really are no words, are there? I almost hope Lotus goes completely user and dies a death now, much as I like the Elise. They’ve messed themselves up beyond belief.

    1. …completely *goes* and…

    2. Lets hope those rumours about Caterham buying the IP and moulds for the Elise etc. are true and they get to building those lovely cars instead soon.

  7. Another team with future financial problems on the horizon

  8. Never good news but I’m glad it’s affecting Lopez and not Fernandes. Only because I think Lopez is in a better position to react.

    I was looking forward to Unilever upping their sponsorship. No Pot Noodle F1 :(

    1. I was looking forward to Unilever upping their sponsorship

      It may happen yet. After Grosjean crashes out of two more GPs, Lotus will dump him and use Unilever money to pry Perez loose from Sauber. Their Lotus title sponsorship won’t be for Pot Noodles though, instead they’ll promote another Unilever brand – Slim-Fast 8)

      1. Either will do :D

  9. I actually dont get whats going on, is this good or bad for Lotus F1?

    1. @um1234 It’s bad news. They have lost their title sponsor. However, if they can find a team with appropriate funding it will be good news.

      1. Snow Donkey
        6th April 2012, 22:48

        Not too sure about that… Seems when proton ceased to be the owners of group lotus, Lotus GP terminated the contract rather than deal with the new owners. Also they have unlivere and microsoft money coming in, as well as room for a title sponsor. Danny Bahar was not my favorite human either. I’d say good news.

        1. Proton never cease the ownership of Group Lotus. Proton was acquired by DRB-Hicom. Group lotus was part of Proton. So, DRB-Hicom get Group Lotus as well.

  10. I have never been able to make much sense of the Lotus goins on. >confused<

  11. So now it would be safe to assume that this Lotus has no connection to the old Chapman Lotus other than name?

    1. @pjtierney IMHO, Enstone never had any connections with Hethel (Yeah, I’m using their locations as names now), and neither did Hingham. So yeah, it’s only in the name.

      1. So there is ‘Lotus’ who make the road cars, and then ‘Group Lotus’ who make racing cars, is that right? ***!? Starting to become a total joke, and destroying a name that was once on par with McLaren and Ferrari. This years car isn’t made by lotus, so why call it one? Its a Renault with major sponsorship by Group Lotus. You never heard the name ‘Mercedes McLaren’ when Merc had a large stake in that team?
        Wish teams like Toyota, Honda and BMW would come back to F1.

  12. I am absolutley sick to death of all this naming crap..

    1. This is a completely separate issue.

      1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
        6th April 2012, 20:03

        Not really, as this Lotus wasn’t able to be called Lotus, until Lotus changed it’s name to Lotus now has no connection to Lotus but will still be called Lotus.

        It’s all in the name

  13. huh? So first Lotus sponsors renault in 2011. They change their name to Lotus. And now Lotus has dropped his sponsorship? When did this happen? So confused…

  14. Only my oppionion, but I think this entire debacle was simply a way to stop Fernades using the Lotus name and protect their brand. They never really wanted a Lotus team on the grid, but better one which they chose than another random team.

    This is backed up by them withdrawing as title sponsor. All they wanted was to use Renault to get control of their brand back. Now they have done so they are not fussed anymore.

    1. You’d have to think there would have been cheaper, less embarrassing ways of getting that result @drmouse, wouldn’t you?

  15. (1) Keeping the name without the $$$s to pay for it is just silly.

    (2) I’m sure the companies actually paying the team might want to have a say in its design. Personally, I can’t wait for the colour scheme to change.

    1. @proesterchen – It’s very difficult to change liveries mid-season. A one-off special livery, like the Red Bull Wings for Life design is okay, but Bernie likes the teams keeping a consistent livery to make it easier to identify the teams. That’s why he opposed BAR’s original plans to have one car in a Lucky Strike design, and the other in 555 colours.

      1. Bernie didn’t like the BAR idea as each car would look different. As log as they both look the same he probably wouldn’t care.

        1. That was my understanding as well.

        2. Nevertheless, it is still very difficult for a team to change their livery mid-season.

          1. @kenny – Because Bernie doesn’t like it.

      2. Midland change livery mid season when Spyker bought them (albeit they just changed red colour to orange colour only)

        1. Teams are allowed to change livery Mid-Season but they have to get permission from the FIA & all the other teams.

          This is top stop teams changing livery all the time which is something you often see in Indycar which makes it very confusing for fans (And in cases commentators) to keep track of who’s who.

          1. HewisLamilton
            6th April 2012, 16:46

            Which cars / teams have changed in Indycar?

          2. I remember Franchitti’s Target-sponsored car switches between red and blue occasionally.

          3. Which cars / teams have changed in Indycar?

            Several teams have run different liveries through the year.
            Dario runs a blue liveried car now & then (Did at Barber last weekend) & I recall him running a black livery at least once last year.

            Penske changed Helio & Briscoe’s livery a few times in 2010/2011.

            Its quite common in Indycar to have special sponsor deals at some races to take advantage of sponsorship from local companies or for some sponsors to come on depending on what network its been broadcast on.

          4. and Helio changed livery too in Barber, which must be confusing for new viewers who just saw him win at St. Pete’s

      3. The livery is one thing – the second is all of the merchandise and stuff. Summing it up, it’s still better to keep up the old name and livery than start everything from scratch.

        There is also the whole “brand” concept which, I think, is one of the reasons why Lopez wants to keep the name up until 2017. He has obviously done lot to use the “Lotus” name in F1 with his team and he surely wishes this investment to pay off.

  16. What a load of cr4p, this whole Lotus-versus-Lotus saga. All that effort and mudslinging to get the Lotus name, and now they terminate the deal. If they had only come to this conclusion 6 months earlier, we would now have had the Fernandes Lotus-Renault in green-yellow, and Lopez/GenII’s Enstone-Renault in whatever they would have liked.

  17. So Group Lotus first terminated the license for Lotus Racing. They then used Team Lotus. Group Lotus sued them for doing so whilst also joining Renault. Team Lotus won, but made a deal with Group Lotus anyway. So then Renault became Lotus and Team Lotus became Caterham.

    Now Group Lotus has terminated their deal with Lotus (ex-Renault), but Lotus are going to continue using the Lotus moniker/constructor name until 2017.

    That’s what I’ve gathered so far.

    The question is, what gives Lotus (ex-Renault) F1 team the right to use the Lotus name if the parent company has terminated the sponsorship deal?

  18. Presumably this is all linked to events in Malaysia where the Government has sold its stake in Proton (the owner of Group Lotus) to DRB-Hicom? There were rumours the DRB-Hicom wanted to completely change the strategy that Danny Bahar had put in place – a strategy that would have seen the launch of lots of new road car models and a huge investment in motorsport.

    1. Yes, it surely must be @bpacman, and it seems that Genii/Lopez is who actually wanted to end it, hence speculation he is still going after Group Lotus ownership, now with clean hands and w/o his team tied up in it.

      1. Snow Donkey
        6th April 2012, 22:55

        This is the most logical train of thought. Lopez clearly still has plans for the Brand.

  19. The first thing I thought of when I read this was that Dany Bahar’s efforts in getting exposure for Lotus as many forms of motorsport as possible amounted to little more than another gargantuan effort to move his drinks cabinet six inches closer to Berlin.

    1. Blackadder, Field Marshall Haig (Bahar), Blackadder Goes Forth. +1

    2. Oh Dany Bahar, the most incompetent CEO in the car industry…

  20. I feel like I’ve seen too much of the ugly side of F1 lately. On the other hand, this is just a logical conclusion to a nonsensical saga.

    1. this is far from the ugly side of f1. on a bad day, f1 has zero sporting legitimacy. i mean as crooked as a race horse working a carnival stand on his way to a boxing ring. this is due to 3rd party ownership and an old world way of doing things. i dare anyone to defend balestre.

      come race day, all is forgiven. especially when it rains.

  21. I’d kind of anticipated that Bahar’s megalomaniac plans for Lotus would go awry someday, but this is waaaaay sooner than expected. There were already quite major problems with the Lotus engine supply for Indycar (lack of engines, lack of top-end power, reliability issues), but to pull out of F1 so soon after they had “won” (with a large pinch of salt) the “Group Lotus vs Team Lotus” battle is, both stunning and amusing. I had expected his crazy plans to unravel, but this soon and also the F1 team, the cream of their investments? A big surprise, really.

  22. Imagine if, when Kingfisher goes under, if Lotus (car company) buys Force India, and rename it Lotus…. my brain hurts…

    1. I think that all F1 teams should actually be called Lotus. As Mr Lopez says, “it is a good name for F1.” To differentiate them, a number could be added to each name, based on last year’s results. Red Bull would become Lotus 1, Mercedes would turn into Lotus 4 and so on.

      1. COTD !!

      2. Who gets the Lotus 7 name, Caterham, or will current Lotus fight them over it?

        1. @Grits, I do like your thinking, but the above Lotus 7 issue is a big one :)

  23. This is very confusing. Why bother keeping the name without the money? They were let down by Lotus group and they are rewarding them for it by giving free sponsership!

    This seems like a good opportunity for another big brand like Porche, Audi, Aston Martin, Nissan etc to get info F1. It wouldn’t be to expensive to get the sponsership and considering this team can possibly win races!

    It would be a bit the opposite of Toyota fruitlessly spending billions over the years without a single victory.

    Also, first my first comment here.

  24. Group Lotus owner Proton has been making losses all this while, the new owner of Proton DRB-Hicom has come in and decided of cost cutting. The obvious target was Lotus, with its involvement in F1. They want to make Proton a quick profit with launched such as the Preve. Its kind of funny to see the Proton Chairman with the Lotus Drivers in a press conference prior to the Malaysian Gp and 3 weeks later the pullout of the team.

  25. All this bickering coming to nothing. What a pathetic episode.

  26. I didn’t read all the comments but I take it I’m far from the only one who actually thought that Lotus (aka Proton) had bought the former Renault team (or atleast a majority share of it)???

    So basically now Renault is just gonna provide 5 years free advertising to a competing car company, right?

    And I’m just gonna say I don’t know how the rest of Malaysian companies do business but this Proton company that owns the Lotus brand is the shadiest company I’ve ever heard of.

    1. Renault isn’t involved with the team at all, and hasn’t been since 2010.

      The new arrangement is very similar to the situation of 1Malaysia in 2010, a team with a licensed name (the same name, in fact), and a funny/useless/fake-retro colour scheme.

      The sad thing is, though, that this team actually has a successful history to be proud of, and doesn’t need to buy itself someone else’s old, shabby identity.

  27. Legomanshair
    6th April 2012, 16:37

    What a fiasco first 2 teams called lotus, then suing each other now lotus pulls out and a bank is calling its cars lotus for free…

  28. Does this mean Lotus now has absolutely nothing to do with Lotus?

  29. What a sorry mess this whole Lotus affair is…

  30. Yeah, this maybe bad for the F1 team, but I’m more concerned about my favourite sports car manufacturer. They’re sponsoring just about every motorsport team in europe, as well as failing at being an IndyCar Engine manufacturer.

    They’re so way in over their heads, I think this is the beginning of the end of the little green and yellow Garagistes.

  31. they r gonna win a few races this year and finish in the top 3 constructors and get madddddd money from sponsors and will be extremely competitive like in 05 and 06

  32. That name is jinxed man.

  33. Alonso (@alonsomanso)
    6th April 2012, 17:53

    so the question is who will have the Lotus name?

  34. well i think good for lotus and the public. with none of this name switching malarke i think people can follow season to season without having to remember lotus was renult and chaterum was lotus…

  35. This is what happens when you gamble with other peoples money.
    Wasting money chasing shadows instead of building proper cars.
    Sometimes all that is needed to run a company, is common sense and not an MBA.

    These guys think this fiasco will endear such a brand to their market.
    What next, another plant in China claiming to be the true manufacturing arm of Lotus?

  36. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    6th April 2012, 23:48

    I doubt this is going to be too big of a negative for Lotus/Renault F1, Genii/Lopez will put up the money necessary to stay competitive. I also don’t think Genii/Lopez are dumb enough to sit on the team and not look for a new title sponsor. I think they simply want to retain the name until they can find a new title sponsor.

  37. Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher)
    6th April 2012, 23:54

    Eurgh!! I think i’m just gonna stick with calling them ‘Renault’.

    1. @mike-the-bike-schumacher – Except they’re not Renault at all. They may have no claim to calling themselves Lotus, but if that’s true, then they have even less claim to calling themselves Renault.

  38. I don’t think the situation is nearly as bad as some people are making out. Gerard Lopez has frequently been named in conjunction with the purchase of Lotus Cars, and if he is going to make a bid, then severing all ties with the company first is the smart way of doing things because it means no-one can call out “conflict of interests!” when it happens. The problem is that this only works if the exchange is transparent, which means the team has to announce it, thereby creating a confusing situation like this.

  39. @prisoner-monkeys: The only say Bernie has in the matter is through the single vote of the commercial rights holder’s representative on the Formula One Commission.

    1. @kenny – Do you honeslty think that’s the limit of Bernie’s power?

      He doesn’t mind it when teams change their livery because there has been a change in ownership. And he doesn’t mind it when they make minor changes like the Renault Mild Seven/Team Spirit designs. But if a team tries to make regular, lasting changes to their livery design, he will have something to say about it. Especially considering the complications surrounding the Lotus vs. Lotus situation last year.

      Besides, this is neither here nor there. My post was in response to @proesterchen saying he couldn’t wait for the team to change their livery. Well, they’re not going to change it. They’re happy competing as Lotus for now, and so there is no need for them to change their design. In fact, their design is what makes them noticeable, since they’re the only black cars on the grid. Why change something that works just for the sake of it?

      1. Yes. All he can do is tell his man on the commission how to vote. Although Bernie had a lot to say about BAR’s dual livery, it was all grandstanding…the livery was blocked because it was against the rules. He also had a lot to say about BAR’s “zipper” livery and was ignored.

        Speculation about what BE may or may not mind in regard to liveries is pointless. He has no say in the matter.

  40. Tony Fernandes’ Lotus were called Team Lotus, but then Lotus sponsored Renault so Lotus became Caters, Renault sponsored by Lotus became Lotus, now Lotus isn’t sponsoring Lotus but they are still called Lotus. Got it…just about. I think

  41. Force Maikel
    7th April 2012, 10:05

    If it wasn’t complicated enough already!

  42. For Crying out loud…will my team get a damn break.

    So sick of this… Come on Renault start designing some gem cars, get more profits buy off this rubbish… you sold the team to a bunch of hideous corporate backstabbing children…. Bring back Flavio, Symmonds and co and lets win this….

    Will Enstone get a break? Call it Benetton, call it Enstone F1 anything this farce should be shut…

    1. Ahh yes Flavio, the pinnacle of integrity and honesty, I can’t honestly see that any of this makes that much difference, the most likely outcome would seem to be a new title sponsor will come on board and the team will be rebranded again, but until that time the team need to call themselves something so will stick to Lotus for now. I for one would love to see a new name on the grid (Aston Martin would be particularly lovely) and can’t see any potential livery swap being an issue.

      1. Ay yes you mean the honesty of the likes of Ron Dendis and the Ferrari Gate so please….yawwwwn….

        1. I never said that Flavio is any better or worse than anyone else, the other teams are far from saints either, But you can’t deny that he has a somewhat tarnished reputation.

          1. I agree to a point…there is a famous saying in F1 they ALL cheat …just don’t get caught…

  43. I shall now be calling them “Lotus”.

    That is all.

  44. They really are intent on repeating the history of Lotus aren’t they.
    1986 – Lotus Cars owned by a mass-market car manufacture – General Motors
    2012 – Lotus Cars owned by a mass-market car manufacture – Proton

    1986 Lotus F1 race in Black and Gold. Have separate ownership to the ‘road-car’ Lotus. Have Renault engines. Changed title sponsor for the following season (JPS to Camel)
    2012 Lotus F1 race in Black and Gold. Have separate ownership to the ‘road-car’ Lotus. Have Renault engines. Need new title sponsor for following seasons

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