Mike Stevens | Sep 8, 2009

LOTUS COULD MAKE a stunning return to Formula 1 after Proton expressed interest this week in taking the final slot on the championship grid next season.

Proton, along with fellow Malaysian company Petronas are reportedly looking to purchase BMW Sauber after the Bavarian manufacturer announced it would drop its factory support next season.

BMW’s shock withdrawal from Formula 1 left team stakeholder Peter Sauber scouring the globe for a potential suitor to save the team and its Hinwil workforce.

And while early talks with buyers proved futile, Sauber seems to have found a saviour in the Malaysian Government, which is keen to expand the presence of its oil manufacturer Petronas, while furthering the cause of Lotus Cars.

Proton acquired Lotus from Bugatti in 1994 when the company was on the verge of collapse, ensuring one of the motoring world’s most enduring names remains in existence.

f1_lotus_01

Malaysian Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek refused to quash speculation surrounding the mooted takeover, hinting an announcement could be made following the Singapore Grand Prix.

Cheek told the Malay Mail: “Nothing has been finalised and there's nothing to comment. I'm not confirming, neither am I saying otherwise.

"Let's wait for the PM to make the announcement. Who knows what will happen after the Singapore GP."

A potential revival of Team Lotus was rumoured in May when F1 aspirants Litespeed claimed to have received permission to use the moniker from its owner David Hunt.

The outfit though was to have no link with Lotus Cars, sparking a mild controversy which was diffused when the FIA rejected Litespeed’s bid to gain entry into the world of Formula 1 in favour of USF1, Campos Racing and Manor Grand Prix.

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