You might say the same for any number of automakers, but in this case it rings particularly true: Lotus wouldn't be Lotus without racing. It's what forged the company at its outset, and that hasn't eluded the management team lead by Dany Behar. Say what you will about his overly ambitious plans to expand the company's product portfolio – he's also lead the company (or at least the brand) into a variety of racing series, and this is its latest product.
The only thing more ambitious than Lotus and its expansive new product plan is the company's racing program. In the span of just a few years, the British automaker has launched forays into Formula One, IndyCar, endurance sportscar racing and even karting, all with its own factory-backed works initiatives. And in true Lotus style, it's not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.
Say what you will about the state of Formula 1 racing today, but at least when the day is done, there's a winner and there are losers. The drawn-out legal battle between Group Lotus and Team Lotus, however, has come to a rather anticlimactic resolution.
With the 2010 World Championship consigned to the history books, the Formula One grid is gearing up for next season. Sixteen out of twenty-four seats have already been spoken for as Lotus and Williams have each confirmed both their drivers.
You don't get much higher stakes than Formula One. And while some teams have their own airplanes, there are a couple this season that have their own airlines: Richard Branson's Virgin, and Tony Fernandes' Lotus Racing and Air Asia.
The relationship between Lotus the automaker and Lotus the F1 racing team only seems to be getting more complicated. The name was licensed by Malaysian state automaker Proton to fellow Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes for use by his F1 team. Then Fernandes announced he didn't need Proton's permission and bought the name from a third party who claimed ownership. Proton and Lotus disputed the claim and canceled the licensing agreement, but Fernandes insisted he was within his rights. Both Lotu
Stick with us here, because this is going to get a little complicated. We have on the one hand Lotus Cars and Group Lotus. On the other we have the current Lotus F1 team. The former – producers of such sportscars as the Elise and the new Elite – is owned by Malaysian state automaker Proton. The former is also Malaysian-owned, but by businessman Tony Fernandes (pictured above, owner also of Air Asia), and uses the name Lotus under license from Proton.
We love Lotus for many reasons. Yes, the thought of lightweight track heathens with more grip than horsepower sends our hearts all aflutter, but there are other reasons to be smitten with the British brand. Like how occasionally the engineers get bored and decide to turn an otherwise pedestrian vehicle into an all-out rocket. Cars like the Dodge Spirit R/T and Isuzu I-Mark have all gotten a healthy dollop of help from Lotus, and now it looks like the Proton Satria Neo can count itself among thos
Do you remember back in 1996 when Michael Schumacher left Benetton for Ferrari? They didn't just get Schumi; along with him came master strategist Ross Brawn and designer extraordinaire Rory Byrne. Together, the wonder team built the Scuderia back into a championship-winning powerhouse. Well, we have a feeling there are some people in Maranello who may be getting acquainted with the flip side of that particular coin.