January 24, 2011

The Lotus Formula 1 Shenanigans

If you watch F1, or at least read the sports section in the newspapers, definitely by now you would know about the much-hyped return of Lotus to F1, in the form of our Malaysian-owned Lotus Racing F1 team:

"What's so special about this team?" you may ask.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s (when they were known as Team Lotus), they were the F1 team with 7 constructors' titles and 6 drivers' championships. When Lotus' founder Colin Chapman died in 1982, Team Lotus started to weaken until it quit the sport in 1994. Despite it's absence for over 10 years, it's domination during the 60s and 70s made them an unforgettable fan favourite, even more so now that the Lotus name has made a return starting last year. 

Also, if you have read the sports section in the papers over the last few months, you may have noticed some hoo-hah regarding Lotus, Proton, Tony Fernandes (team owner) and Renault about naming rights and lots of other gibberish when suddenly you might have seen this:

and you'd think,

"Oooh yay our Lotus Racing has a new colour!"


For most of us casual viewers and fans of F1 and/or Lotus Racing, this gets very confusing. That's why I'm here to (try) clear things up. 

You see, the main Lotus company has two separate divisions; Group Lotus which makes road cars, and Team Lotus that raced in F1 as I mentioned earlier. They are not related or linked to each other in anyway other than having the Lotus name. They dont support each other financially or technologically or whatever. Nothing difficult here, right?

In 1996, Proton bought over a major share in Group Lotus. 
Basically, Proton now owns Group Lotus (which explains why you see Proton cars having the "Lotus Ride and Handling" tag in advertisements).

Last year, Tony Fernandes bought the rights to use the Team Lotus name starting this year for his F1 team. To put it very very loosely, Tony Fernandes now runs Team Lotus.

Pretty easy to follow, right?

But suddenly in September last year.....

Proton claims that "Tony has no rights to use the Team Lotus name for F1 and we would do anything to prevent him from doing so"

Now, if you read back what I've just mentioned above and look at the diagrams, Team Lotus and Group Lotus are not linked to each other in anyway whatsoever. They are both left to do their respective jobs; one makes road cars and the other goes racing. They do not and are not meant to poke their noses into the other one's business.

And as we can see above, Proton is violating that rule. Proton should just focus on Group Lotus making road cars and leave Tony to do his F1 business, but noooooooo they decide to kepochi instead.

And then at the end of last year.........

Group Lotus (owned by Proton) decides to make a joint effort with Renault GP (a currently existing F1 team) to form Lotus-Renault GP by buying a majority of shares in the team.

"So does this mean there are two Lotus teams this year?"

Err, sort of....

Lotus in Lotus-Renault GP is just a title sponsor, meaning they dont provide technology, engines or car parts. They just sponsor the team, like how Vodafone sponsors Mclaren,

and Petronas sponsors Mercedes GP.

Team Lotus on the other hand, is just Team Lotus. They do use Renault engines, but they dont have Renault in their name at all. Just call them Team Lotus.

So then, Lotus-Renault GP

versus Team Lotus

Who will prevail?

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