The chances of Team Lotus retaining the rights to use the name after the legal battle that starts today have taken a serious knock.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Tony Fernandes is now in dispute with David Hunt, the man who acquired the Team Lotus name at the end of 1994 and agreed to sell it to Malaysia1, the parent company of the then Lotus Racing, last September.
However, Hunt claims that the deal has not been completed as agreed. Without his support in court the team’s case is massively compromised.
Hunt told the Telegraph: “When we had to make the Team Lotus staff redundant in 1995 I made a promise to them and the fans to return it to F1 in the hands of a worthy custodian, and initially I had high hopes that Tony, Din and Nasa (Fernandes’ partners in Team Lotus) were going to tick the boxes.
“What angers me is that I have, in good faith, worked extremely hard on the build-up to the hearing because I believed Tony would honour our January agreement.
“He’s apparently ‘changed his mind’ at the 11th hour, by his own admission, now that I’ve done so much work on his company’s behalf, and he’s trying to renegotiate by offering new terms which are, frankly, ludicrous.
“All I’m looking for is for Tony to stick to his word and honour our agreement. If he doesn’t, then regrettably I don’t see why I should continue to provide assistance and this trial won’t be the last battle he’s facing, even if he wins.”
Update: After the story broke a team spokesman told the Telegraph: “Team Lotus has an agreement with David Hunt which was signed by both parties. David Hunt has tried to renegotiate that agreement, which Team Lotus is not prepared to do.”