Lotus Racing has been on the grid for a season already, but that's not the "real" Lotus. Group Lotus, the corporate parent of Lotus Cars, won't be in F1 until next season--as new owner and title sponsor of the former Renault F1 Team, running under the new title "Lotus Renault GP."
Confused yet? It's no wonder, and the fight between Group Lotus owner Proton and Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus over rights to use the Lotus name continues. To confuse matters further, both teams plan to use variants of the black-and-gold John Player Special livery of the original Lotus F1 team cars of the 1970s and 1980s. Oh, and Lotus Racing is planning to change its name to Team Lotus.
Beyond that, things aren't much easier to grasp. Group Lotus' stake in the new Lotus Renault GP team comes via the sale of Renault's last remaining 25 percent stake in the team, purchased through Genii Capital, the majority owner of the team. The cars will still have to be called Renaults, however, due to FIA Concorde agreement rules.
Under the terms of the deal, Group Lotus will be involved with the new F1 team through at least 2017. Check out the full press release on page two for a complete lack of clarity.
[Lotus Renault GP]
GROUP LOTUS + RENAULT + GENII = LOTUS RENAULT GP
Lotus, the manufacturer, is back
LOTUS RENAULT GP 2011
Group Lotus plc and Genii Capital are pleased to announce a partnership which will see the Renault F1 Team renamed as ‘Lotus Renault GP’ from the start of the 2011 racing season onwards. The association heralds the return of a highly successful Formula 1™ association between Lotus and Renault from the 1980s. Lotus’ racing pedigree and heritage coupled with Renault’s technology in Formula 1™ will set the united team on a path to future success.
Group Lotus plc will acquire a major equity stake in the team from Genii Capital. The transaction represents a partnership between Group Lotus and Genii Capital and signifies the beginning of a more comprehensive strategic alliance between the two organisations.
The partnership between Lotus and Genii brings the ability to quickly incorporate new technologies from F1™ cars into Lotus road cars including hybrid technology, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), aero advancements and lightweight materials. Genii, an investment holding company with a portfolio of automotive technologies, bring non-F1™ technologies such as lightweight braking systems, variable compression engine technology and on board software systems to the partnership.
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: “I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1™. We’re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1™ and I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position: We are Lotus, and we are back.”
Dato' Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, Chairman of Proton, Lotus majority shareholder, said: "We know that Group Lotus has much to offer Formula 1™ and vice versa. After careful consideration, we believe this arrangement will be fruitful, both from a commercial and marketing point of view."
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Proton advisor and former Prime Minister of Malaysia, said: "This is an exciting development which delivers strategic benefits to both Group Lotus and Proton. I fully support the partnership."
Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault, commented: “This multi-partner alliance will bring a new dynamic to the team and enable it to compete with the sport’s best from next season.”
In addition to this, Genii is also offering Proton the ability to leverage on its existing business relationships in Russia and other parts of the world, as a means to expand Proton's global reach. Through Genii, Proton can also potentially access advanced automotive technologies by virtue of Genii’s association with Mangrove, a venture capital group.
Gerard Lopez, founding partner of Genii Capital, said: “For Group Lotus, access to Formula 1™ opens up new marketing opportunities and a major platform for business exchanges and development. In this regard, Genii Capital possesses shareholdings in, and direct access to, cutting edge companies in the automotive industry. Our tie-up with Group Lotus and Proton, which will enable its future road car ranges to take advantage of significant new technologies, is a natural step.”