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Lotus Renault GP 2011 livery – Click above for high-res image gallery

Group Lotus and Team Lotus weren't expected to get their day in court until the summer, but the two outfits are reportedly heading to trial next week to seek a resolution of the naming rights dispute that has emerged between them. The earlier court proceedings in London will reportedly seek a summary judgment, a sort of preemptive ruling that could obviate the need for a drawn-out legal battle between the two parties.

For those unfamiliar, Group Lotus parent company Proton had licensed the name Lotus to an independent F1 team that joined the field last year. The two entities then had a difference of opinion on continuing the contract for a second season, after which Group Lotus (maker of the cars we know and love) bought out the Renault F1 team to form Lotus Renault GP. The independent Malaysian team, meanwhile, is also contracted to run Renault engines next season, leaving the two teams with nearly identical names in every respect.

The two outfits were also set to run similar black-and-gold liveries this season, but the independent Team Lotus opted to stick with the existing green-and-yellow livery as Lotus Renault GP unveiled the retro black-and-gold scheme at the Autosport International show in Birmigham (images from which we've put into the gallery below for your viewing pleasure). The team could, however, run afoul of anti-tobacco legislation (in Canada of all places, where the law's implementation was originally delayed in order to keep their grand prix) since the livery is a throwback to when tobacco brand JPS sponsored the outfit in its heyday.

In a related development, the Lotus Renault GP team is reportedly preparing to hire a large number of Malaysian employees as well, including Fairuz Fauzy. The Malaysian driver – winner of races in A1GP, GP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 – served as a test driver last season for Lotus Racing (aka Team Lotus) but recently quit the team with no explanation, and will now be acting as Lotus Renault GP's official test and reserve driver alongside Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov.

Finally, Lotus has also announced the recruitment of former F1 driver Jean Alesi, who will serve as an ambassador for the Exos/Type 125 program and the latest in a long line of former Ferrari employees who have followed CEO Dany Behar (a former Ferrari vice-president himself) to Lotus. Got all that? Now check out the fresh batch of images in the gallery below.

[Sources: Autosport, Lotus]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      When was the last time anyone saw John Player cigarettes for sale? Seriously FIA? Most F1 drivers weren't even around when JPS was a team.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Group Lotus is only a title sponsor at the moment. They have not bought any shares from Genii or Renault F1.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This team started life as Toleman, then it became Benetton and later Renault. Now they want to call it 'Lotus'. What next?
      BTW the red wing sides make the car look garish.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The red is a nod to the Ferrari-ization of Lotus. Eventually, just like the management, the car will be entirely red. ;-)
      • 4 Years Ago
      so, no matter what happens, the Malaysians win
      • 4 Years Ago
      so to sum it up, Lotus is just a sponsor since they are Renault cars...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just curious on the basis with which you are claiming that the team's colours could be an issue in Canada? Is this is a genuine issue raised by the team?

      Many countries, if not most, have similar laws. Canada was not the first to introduce such legislature.

      The rule permitted teams like Ferrari to display a bar-code in place of the Marlboro logo without any changes to the colour scheme. And they continued to have the world "Marlboro" in their team name.

      I hardly see how black and gold wihtout JPS or its logo is a concern.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It makes no sense to ban a color scheme based on prior use when a tobacco company sponsored. Think of all the liveries that would have to be banned.

        Red/White - Marlboro
        Black/Gold - JPS
        White/Red/Gold - Lucky Strike
        Yellow/Blue - Camel
        French Blue/Yellow - Mild Seven
        Yellow/Black - Benson & Hedges
        Red/White/Gold - Gold Leaf Tobacco
        Blue/Red/Gold/Yellow - Rothman's

        I'll stop now but there are plenty more. I get why tobacco sponsors were pulled but to put a ban on a team livery that dates back to when they were a dominating force in F1? That is just stupid.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So if the Group Lotus F1 team is really a Renault, who is building the Lotus 125 F1 inspired track racer?
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's right. At this point they're just like Petronas and Mercedes; Vodaphone and McLaren.