The seemingly ongoing saga of the Lotus name in Formula One has been sent down a new path following news the Genii Capital-owned F1 team has terminated its sponsorship agreement with Group Lotus.
Back in January owner of Group Lotus, Proton, underwent a significant change in structure after the Malaysian Government sold its 42.7% stake to DRB-Hicom. Financial uncertainty has surrounded Group Lotus since the Proton sale and this was a contributing reason for Genii cancelling its sponsorship agreement.
Under the previous sponsorship deal Group Lotus held an option to buy the F1 team from Genii. However, Gerard Lopez, owner of Genii Capital, says that deal no longer exists. “The sponsorship agreement and the obligations of Lotus have been terminated. There is no option from Group Lotus to buy into F1 now—that option was taken over by us,” he confirmed with Autosport. “There was one, but we have taken it over now.”
Lopez also confirmed his team wants to keep the Lotus name in F1, “We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1. We funded the team last year and the year before for whatever delta was missing. We would prefer to have sponsors up to the full amount—but if we have to fund it then we will fund it.”
From a daily operations point of view it seems the F1 team is not under any financial strain, “When we changed the name from Lotus Renault to Lotus [for this year], it opened up the door for a title sponsor. So if you take into account the fact we signed Unilever, probably the biggest sponsorship agreement this year in F1, and we signed Microsoft, which is huge news as it is a brand that has never been in F1 before, we have a wide space for sponsorship,” added Lopez.
“If we sign a title sponsor now, we will end up with a better cash flow situation than this team ever had before.”
In a twist perfectly suited for the sometimes bizarre world of F1, Genii had previously shown interest in buying Group Lotus. Lopez hasn’t ruled out such a move but is unsure if the possibility would present itself, “We don’t know yet, because we really do not know what the new owner wants to do with it.”
[Source: Autosport | Pic: Lotus F1/LAT Photographic]