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F1: Renault Sells Up As Group Lotus Enters F1, Team Lotus Adamant Photo:
Mike Stevens | Dec, 09 2010 | 1 Comment

Group Lotus on Wednesday finally unveiled its collaboration for 2011 and beyond with the Renault F1 team.

It had been expected that the famous British sports car maker, now owned by Malaysia's Proton, would tie up with Renault either in the form of a title sponsorship or by actually buying some of the Enstone based team.

A media statement referred to a "strategic alliance" between the two companies, resulting in "the creation of Lotus Renault GP".

Group Lotus is a new "major equity partner of (Renault team owner) Genii Capital", including title sponsorship of the team through to 2017.

Renault, meanwhile, is staying in F1 "as a supplier of engines and engineering expertise" and will have "pre-eminent brand exposure on the livery", the statement said.

But the French carmaker has sold "its remaining shares in the team to Genii".

Confusingly, the only team called Lotus on the 2011 entry list at present is Tony Fernandes' entirely separate team, who, through a new engine deal with Renault, also intends to be 'Lotus-Renault' next season.

But Group Lotus said it is now making a "complete return" to F1 in 2011, Fernandes' outfit having used the name "under licence" this year.

That licence has been revoked, but Wednesday's statement said Renault F1 "will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name" in 2011.

"It is a tribute to the excellent work this year by the team in Enstone that we have been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future," said Genii's Gerard Lopez.

Group Lotus' Chief Executive Dany Bahar said: "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 once and for all - we are Lotus and we are back."

Fernandes' team recently announced that it would revive the iconic black and gold livery in 2011, but now the newly Lotus-owned team is saying its cars will be "black and gold" in 2011.

Someone is clearly jumping the gun. The outcome, it seems, is still not very clear.



'Team Lotus' Resolute After Group Lotus Announcement

'Team Lotus' on Wednesday indicated it is in no mood to give in despite Group Lotus entering Formula One for 2011.

F1 is now facing the bizarre situation of one team - Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus - being known as Lotus-Renault, while the Renault F1 team is officially Lotus Renault GP.

Both intend to field Lotus' black and gold cars inspired by the Lotuses raced by the likes of Ayrton Senna in the 80s.

Prior to Wednesday's announcement, the situation looked destined for a bitter legal row, but even amid the pressure imposed by Group Lotus', the group led by Fernandes sounded as resolute as ever.

"(Group Lotus CEO) Dany Bahar has done us a favour," team boss Fernandes wrote on Twitter. "Never felt better about our future and Team Lotus. Looks like they (are) trying to hijack our black and gold idea."

He re-published a 'tweet' from a fan: "Stick with the green and gold, save some cash to spend on the car!"

Fernandes was 'tweeting' from Bangkok.

"Funny, first meeting I had was in the Lotus room. Wonder if Dany is going to try and sponsor that," he typed.

The team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne was also tweeting on Wednesday: "Lotus, just like buses, you wait for ages and then two come along at once.

"Rest assured, we are Team Lotus and we are here to stay."

Chief Executive Riad Asmat confirmed: "To clarify, since I've been receiving numerous calls from the media over here; we are 'Team Lotus'."


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