• Dec 8th 2010 at 3:32PM
  • 21
Lotus Renault GP livery – Click above for high-res image

In the highly competitive environment that is Formula One racing, things can get a bit messy. Rivalries. Crashes. Underhanded maneuvers. Team orders. Scandals. But identity crises? This is a new one. But that's just what we're looking at with Lotus. Because you see as we head into the 2011 championship, two teams are on the docket that both claim the same name and plan to fly the same colors.

We're talking about Lotus-Renault, a legendary pairing but one with a serious split-personality disorder. For the past several months Group Lotus and its Malaysian parent company Proton have been embroiled in a naming rights dispute with Tony Fernandes, owner of what's until now been called the Lotus Racing team. After licensing the name from Proton (and having nothing to do with the engineering firm and automaker we know as Lotus), Fernandes decided he didn't need Proton's permission anymore and renamed his outfit Team Lotus, commensurately switching from Cosworth to Renault engines and pledging to bring back the iconic Lotus black and gold livery.

After a brief exchange in the press, negotiations between the two Lotus parties went behind closed doors. Then reports surfaced that Group Lotus (the automaker) was considering buying Renault out of its stake in its own F1 team, reports that have now been confirmed by official announcement. Renault (the French automaker) has sold its stake in its F1 team to its investment partner Genii Capital, which has in turn sold part to Group Lotus. Retaining Renault engines, the team is therefor being rebranded Lotus Renault GP, and has released the image above showing what their car could look like under the new livery next season.

Thing is, Fernandes' Team Lotus is contracted to use those same engines, and was planning on resurrecting that same iconic livery. Neither seems eager to relent, but there can only be one Lotus-Renault team, so something's got to give before the season kicks off in Bahrain on March 13, so stay tuned and check out the full press release after the jump.

[Source: Renault]
Show full PR text

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™.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looks like a winner, which it probably won't be.
      • 4 Years Ago
      All I can say is that gold on black is pretty classy.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yep, Im confused. But I love the paint job on that car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2 Lotus teams. Both using Renault engines. Both based in England. Both using black and gold.

      Can you imagine this happening in any other sport? 2 NFL teams based in the same state with the same name, wearing the same uniforms?

      I love F1!!!! I don't know which one to cheer for.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Both Malaysian backed and based in England.
      • 4 Years Ago
      very retro
        • 4 Years Ago
        Final touch of retro/nostalgia : The drivers should be Marco Andretti and Bruno Senna! :-)

        Just kidding
      • 4 Years Ago
      fantastic color and graphics!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's pretty sad when F1 is more entertaining in the press than on the racetrack.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I must say that livery looks fantastic. As much as I liked the folk at Lotus Racing last year I'm more excited about seeing the name on the Renault, as it's much more likely to see the success it deserves. But who knows.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I will still cheer for the "current" Lotus team over this one as a "true" Lotus team.

        This is just Danny Bahar looking for some quick success by buying into an existing team. Lotus Racing started from nothing but stuck to Lotus roots (building in Norfolk), even though they aren't connected at all to the car company. They did themselves proud.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Love those colors.
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Fernandes decided he didn't need Proton's permission anymore and renamed his outfit Team Lotus"


      Fernandes didn't just decide that he could use the Team Lotus name, hence why Lotus Cars aren't doing that themselves. Fernandes Legally bought the rights to Team Lotus from David Hunt (brother to 1976 World Champion James Hunt) who was the owner since Team Lotus dropped out after the 1994 season. Lotus Cars (which is a separate entity) don't own these rights and therefore cannot lay claims to the history of Team Lotus.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Fantastic graphic there ^
        • 4 Years Ago
        Team Lotus and Lotus Cars were always separate so that if one failed financially the other would not. Team Lotus was run by Chapman himself and Lotus Cars was run by Chapman and a board of directors. Many have made the mistake of not knowing they were separate such as GM when they bought Lotus in the 80's and more recently Proton in 1996.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Loving the John Player Special livery. Would be nice to see Lotus shake things up a bit....
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's pretty sad when F1 is more entertaining in the press than on the racetrack.
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