Formula 1 just got a whole lot more confusing. Lotus and Renault’s F1 team have partnered to create a new team called Lotus Renault GP. They will run alongside Team Lotus-Renault in the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship. Confused? Well, allow me to explain.
Last season, we had Lotus Racing-Cosworth, ran by Tony Fernandes. Fernandes has nothing to do with automaker Lotus or its parent company Proton, but he received name rights for the 2010 F1 season. But for 2011, he decided he didn’t need permission, and renamed the whole thing to Team Lotus, even though the automaker did not grant him rights for 2011.
To make matters worse however, Team Lotus switched from Cosworth engines to Renault powerplants, hence the Team Lotus-Renault name. This meant that when Lotus Renault GP was announced, we ended up with two Lotus-Renault teams on the 2011 Formula 1 grid.
And that’s not all. Lotus Renault GP’s livery, pictured at the beginning of the article, is based on the iconic John Player Special black and gold livery. Well guess what livery Team Lotus-Renault plans to use? Yes, team owner Tony Fernandes has pledged to bring back the iconic livery for use by his team in 2011.
While this is all looking very bad, the two teams are disputing over naming rights, and chances are, one of them is going to have to change their plans before the season kicks off.
Genii Capital and Group Lotus join forces in Lotus Renault GP
Genii Capital and Group Lotus plc today announced the creation of Lotus Renault GP, the successor to the Renault F1 Team that will contest the 2011 FIA Formula One™ World Championship. This exciting announcement is made in the context of a strategic alliance between the two companies that will provide Group Lotus with significant technological and commercial opportunities for its range of road cars.
Following the return of the Lotus name to Formula 1™ in 2010, under licence from Group Lotus, this historic announcement marks the complete return of the Lotus manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of its parent company Proton. Group Lotus plc will become a major equity partner of Genii Capital in Lotus Renault GP, and the two parties have concluded a title sponsorship agreement that will run until the end of the 2017 season. With the continued support of Renault as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise, Lotus Renault GP enjoys a strong, stable platform for future success.
Gerard Lopez, Chairman of Renault F1 Team, commented: “We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011. It is extremely exciting to begin a new era for the team in partnership with Group Lotus, and we will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons. 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.”
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: “I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing. 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.”
The new partnership has been enabled by Renault selling its remaining shares in the team to Genii Capital. Group Lotus plc will subsequently become a major equity partner in Lotus Renault GP, which it will co-own with Genii Capital.
Renault will continue its strong support of the team with which it won the 2005 and 2006 world championships, as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise. Reflecting this technological support, Lotus Renault GP will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name and Renault will enjoy pre-eminent brand exposure on the livery.
For 2011, the Lotus Renault GP cars will race in a new interpretation of the iconic black and gold colours that were last used when Lotus and Renault joined forces in the 1980s. This livery, which has been on the drawing board for over two months in order to reinterpret its iconic graphic signature to suit modern media requirements, is sure to strike a powerful chord with the sport’s enthusiasts around the world.
The team scored a strong fifth-place finish in the 2010 constructors’ championship, which included three podium finishes for Robert Kubica. Next season, Lotus Renault GP is aiming to take another step forward which will see it competing regularly with the most prestigious names in Formula 1™.