Tony Fernandes confirmed today that his team will be running as Team Lotus in 2011, as exclusively predicted here back on July 12.
He has concluded a deal to buy the name from David Hunt, who has owned it since the end of 1994, when he bought what was left of the original F1 team at the end of what turned out to be its final season. Hunt, who joined Fernandes for the announcement, will remain involved in the team, mainly in a sponsor hunting role.
“Nothing else changes,” said Fernandes. “We’ll still be based in Hingham, we’ll still have Mike Gascoyne, and we’ll still be green and yellow. We’re just changing the name and bringing back all the history.”
The Lotus F1 team will no longer have any connection with Group Lotus, having had a licence to use the name this season. That deal has now ended. Meanwhile as reported previously Group Lotus going racing in GP2 and GP3 next season in conjunction with the ART team. However, Fernandes denies that the apparent clash will cause problems.
“There’s no confusion. If Group Lotus decided to sponsor the ART racing team, that’s fine, and that carries on. We don’t actually understand the logic behind that, but that is their call.”
Fernandes doesn’t expect an ART/Lotus F1 effort: “I think it would be a very odd situation and will destroy a lot of goodwill. It was always very clear, Group Lotus is a car company, and Team Lotus has always been a racing team, racing in Indy and many other series, including Le Mans. I wouldn’t think that would happen.
“English law is very clear. Trade mark is an extra source of protection, but good will and passing off is very clear in English law. If someone tried to pass off [as Team Lotus] as a Formula One racing team or even in GP2 or Indy, we will obviously challenge that.”
Fernandes didn’t want to be drawn on the Renault deal.
“We obviously have something, but today we want to focus on the name. There are lots of things we want to tell you guys, but we want to do it step by step. There are still four races. We obviously have a deal on the table for an engine, and once the time is ready to announce it, we’ll announce it. We’ve obviously made an announcement that we’ll cease our arrangement with Cosworth.”
My original story is here: http://adamcooperf1.com/2010/07/12/fernandes-acquires-team-lotus-name/