Tony Fernandes has changed his mind on using black and gold next year after the new Lotus Renault GP team announced that it would also follow that route. He says that the team will stick with green and yellow, as used this season.
The battle for the use of the name reached another level this week after Group Lotus announced that it is buying into and sponsoring Renault F1, but Fernandes remains confident.
“Nothing’s really changed for us,” he told this blog earlier today. “We have maintained that we are Team Lotus. It’s sad that it’s reached this kind of position.”
He denies rumours that the FIA has said that he can’t use the Lotus name: “Nothing was discussed… I think we’ve had good support from the FIA and FOM, and I’m unperturbed by that side.”
Regarding the colourscheme, he admits that with the FIA announcing a green (and thus politically correct) engine for 2013 it was not a good time to be doing anything that might be seen to be promoting cigarettes.
He insists that he didn’t know that the John Player Special brand, whose historic colours he intended to revive, is still available commercially.
“I doubt there will be four black cars. With the launch of the new engine and with many people complaining that I may be promoting a cigarette brand that’s still in existence, I think we may be wise to go back to green.
“We’re not silly and emotional and childish about it. We always wanted to be the green team. We thought for a change we’d give black and gold a run, whether it’s co-incidence or they copied, they came out with the same concept. I’m happy to go back to green having looked at everything. It will be silly to have four black cars, so we will be the green and yellow Team Lotus team.”
Fernandes is sceptical about the plans of Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar.
“Dany Bahar has said that he needs a team to win, but so do we. We’re not in F1 to lose. He thinks that we won’t be able to do it, but I’m not sure how he can assess us after one year. I think in one year we have done a very good job, I think no one in the paddock would doubt that, considering we started in September.
“We have done exactly what we said we would do. The whole relationship with Proton soured with the arrival of Dany Bahar, and it was very clear that he had his own agenda, and that didn’t include us.
“He never visited Lotus Racing, he never came and saw what we were building, he thought Mike Gascoyne was old school.
“From the branding point of view, I don’t understand it one bit. As someone who’s built a brand over nine years that is globally recognised, it doesn’t make any sense at all.”
He has also no time for suggestions that Team Lotus is promoting the Lotus name and hence its road cars for no obvious gain.
“We have a tremendous amount to gain from it. I’ve been building brands for a long time, and over the next six months you’ll see our strategy evolving on what we are doing.”