Formula 1 Lotus

The Lotus position

Lotus F1 history

Earlier this month a new website called Save Team Lotus was launched. If you’ve been keeping up to speed on this sorry tale you won’t be surprised to learn of the new site. If not, you’d better read on to see what all the fuss is about.

Lotus is Lotus right? The people who made the famous Formula One cars of old are the same folks that made the road cars? Nope. It wasn’t then, and it most certainly isn’t now.

While it’s true that Colin Chapman was the driving force behind both companies, it is also true that Team Lotus (the F1 team) and Group Lotus (the road car manufacturer) were, and still are, separate entities. A move originally taken by Chapman to protect the road car manufacturer from the racing team in case of any damages brought about by insurance or accident claims.

Fast forward to 1994 and Team Lotus was forced into administration. The left over bits, including the rights to the Team Lotus name, were purchased by David Hunt and his business partner. Hunt was involved with Team Lotus prior to their demise and this, along with the fact he is the brother of 1976 World Champion James Hunt, has given him a great respect for Team Lotus history.

In 1996 the Malaysian auto maker Proton purchased Lotus under the assumption they were getting the road car outfit and the former F1 team as well. As it turned out, for reasons just explained, Proton’s purchase didn’t include any of the race team’s assets or intellectual property. Worse, Proton only discovered their position on the day their takeover was announced.

2010 Japanese GP

So when Lotus Racing made its Formula One debut this year it was a team that had no historical or legal links to the Team Lotus we have come to know and love. The brand name Lotus was used under agreement from Proton and effectively licensed to Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes and his team 1 Malaysia Racing Team. Still keeping up?

Fernandes, though, seems to get what Team Lotus is all about. He understands the historical significance of the name and it was when he announced that he forged an agreement with David Hunt to bring the Team Lotus name back to F1 in 2011 that things began to get interesting.

Proton are not happy. They now claim that it is them, not Hunt, who owns the rights to the Team Lotus name and they’re ready to put their money where their mouth is by heading for the courts. All a bit messy and, from what we can tell, all a bit unnecessary.

If this tale has piqued your interest you’d do well to read an exclusive interview with David Hunt on Peter Windsor’s website. Noted F1 photographer Darren Heath has chimed in with a few thoughts, as well.

[Source: The Race Driver]

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