Group Lotus joins Renault for 2011

From next year, the 2005/06 championship-winning Renault F1 team will be known as Lotus Renault GP as Group Lotus became a major shareholder and title sponsor.

According to a report on The Daily Telegraph, Renault agreed a $100m title sponsorship deal with Lotus Cars, which will see the team re-branded in 2011.

The deal will see Renault sell the remainder of its shares to Genii Capital, which bought 75% of them last year.

The title sponsorship deal with Group Lotus is due to run until the end of the 2017 season, with Renault committing to supply engines to the team for a number of years.

Gerard Lopez, chairman of Renault F1 Team, said about the deal: “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.”

The iconic black and gold livery as made famous by John Player Special will make a re-appearance on the grid next year, but to confuse matters the Tony Fernandes’ outfit is also considering using the same colour scheme.

In addition, Team Lotus has recently signed a deal to use Renault engines next year, so it will be a case of double vision with two Lotus entries using the same power unit and livery…

7 thoughts to “Group Lotus joins Renault for 2011”

  1. The battle over the Team Lotus name still rages on. has the details.

    Team Lotus chiefs Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne have responded defiantly to the announcement of Group Lotus’s entry into Formula 1 with Renault.

    The two organisations are currently battling over the use of the Lotus brand in F1, with Group Lotus and its owner Proton insisting it has sole rights over the name, while Fernandes’ squad is adamant that the car company and F1 team were separate in the original Lotus days so its purchase of Team Lotus rights from David Hunt is valid.

    In messages on their Twitter pages this morning, both Fernandes and Gascoyne signalled that news that Group Lotus had become a partner of Renault and Genii Capital would not deter them from fighting to use Team Lotus next year.

    “Thanks for all the messages of support from our fans,” Gascoyne wrote.

    “Rest assured, we are Team Lotus and we are here to stay and we at Team Lotus are in F1 to design, build and race F1 cars from our home in Norfolk, and in the future to win as a Team, bring it on.”

    Fernandes said he was also still extremely positive about his team’s prospects in the row – and noted that Group Lotus and Renault were using black and gold colours, the livery his squad had recently announced it would switch to in 2011.

    “[Group Lotus CEO] Dany Bahar has done us a favour,” Fernandes wrote. “Never felt better about our future and Team Lotus. Looks like they’re trying to hijack our black and gold idea.”

    Gascoyne also took a light-hearted dig at Group Lotus and owner Proton when congratulating Fernandes on being named Businessman of the Year for 2010 by Forbes Asia.

    “Congratulations to Tony Fernandes, Forbes Asia businessman of the year. Bet the guys from Proton have never won that!!!” Gascoyne tweeted.

  2. The Renault team are set to become known as Lotus Renault GP next season after agreeing a title-sponsorship deal with Group Lotus that will run until 2017. Following the return of the Lotus name to Formula One in 2010, under licence from Group Lotus to Lotus Racing, the announcement marks the complete return of the British sportscar manufacturer to the sport, with the full backing of parent company Proton.

    Group Lotus will also become major equity partners in the Renault team with current owners Genii Capital, as part 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. Renault will continue to support the team as a supplier of engines and technological and engineering expertise.

    “We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011,” commented Gerard Lopez, Chairman of the Renault team. “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 French car giant Renault selling its remaining shares in the team to Genii Capital. Group Lotus will subsequently become co-owner of the team with Genii Capital. They will continue to compete with the Renault chassis name and Renault will enjoy pre-eminent brand exposure on the car.

    For 2011, the team plan to 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 has been on the drawing board for over two months in order to reinterpret its iconic graphic signature to suit modern media requirements.

    Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes’ Malaysian-backed squad that returned the Lotus name to Formula One under license this season, will continue to compete next year, switching from Cosworth to Renault power. The 2011 championship entry list published by the FIA last week listed them under the team name of Team Lotus.


  3. Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has insisted he would have no problem with Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus continuing with the same name in Formula 1 next year despite his company also entering the world championship with Renault.

    Today’s confirmation that Group Lotus will become a shareholder in and title sponsor of the Renault team next year, and Fernandes’ insistence that he owns the rights to the Team Lotus title and can therefore use it in F1, raises the prospect of two separate Lotus Renault teams appearing on the 2011 grid.

    But Bahar said that he would regard this as extra promotion for his brand, rather than a potential source of confusion or competition.

    “Not [a problem] at all – for me, four are better than two,” Bahar told BBC Radio Norfolk. “The controversy, that is something that has mainly been pushed up by media I would say, has been dealt with directly by our shareholders in Malaysia and with the owners of the 1Malaysia racing team [Team Lotus’ parent company], and doesn’t really touch us.

    “However, my personal opinion is that four Lotus brands out there is better than two. I have nothing against that.”

    Bahar explained that he felt Group Lotus stood a better chance of achieving cost-effective success by linking up with Renault than if it had got behind Fernandes’ team.

    “I think that’s just a strategy decision, whether you want to build a team from scratch, which is a much, much more costly exercise,” he said.

    “Maybe there is more satisfaction [with a brand new team] for some individuals, but I think the time you consume and the money you spend in building a team from scratch into a winning team, we can just not afford that exercise.

    “And I believe that our brand should be participating in all motor racing activities not for the sake of participating, but for the sake of winning. And that’s why we decided to go with one of the top five teams because we believe there is the potential to go back to where they were when they were winning world championship titles.”

    Group Lotus’s F1 move follows a string of expansion announcements, including IndyCar and Le Mans programmes, a tie-up with ART for GP2 and GP3, and a wide variety of new road car projects.

    Bahar said he had no doubts at all about the company’s strategy and is certain that the F1 programme will pay off.

    “I don’t think that myself, my management team, the shareholders and all the stakeholders involved would actually agree to a step like this if we were not convinced that it gives us the necessary returns for the brand we are now, and the brand we would like to become in the next two years,” he said.


  4. Group Lotus have made hints that it will fully takeover the Renault F1 team over the next few years. has the details.

    Group Lotus says its Formula 1 ambitions extend beyond being a title sponsor and shareholder of the re-branded Lotus Renault team – as it hints about taking full control of the outfit in the next few years.

    The Malaysian-owned car maker has taken a 50 per cent stake in Lotus Renault, with the other half of the company remaining under the control of Genii Capital.

    And although nothing has been decided yet about future ownership plans, Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has hinted about a full-on takeover in the next few years.

    “Our way of doing things means that at the end of the project we would like to control it ourselves,” he told this week’s AUTOSPORT in an exclusive interview.

    “It’s the same route – it starts somewhere and then you slowly take control. We would not be in for the long-term just to be a sponsor on the team.”

    Gerard Lopez, the head of Genii Capital which brought a majority shareholding in the team at the end of last year, said that his company remained committed to staying involved for now.

    “There is no real timescale to it,” he said. “There is the opportunity for the partnership to evolve in the future. To discuss, even between ourselves, what the world is going to look like in five years is really difficult.

    “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were changes in the future but at this stage things are good the way they are. We are committed long-term.”

    Lotus’s ambitions plans in racing and on the road car front have prompted questions about whether or not the company has the finances in place to see its plans turned into reality.

    Bahar is adamant, however, that the money is there for Lotus to succeed.

    “We would not commit without backing from shareholders, banks and investors,” he said. “If we didn’t it would be foolish to come up with ambitious plans like this.”

  5. As for the drivers, it seems Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov will head ther re-branded Lotus Renault GP team next season. The outfit has expressed the latter to be the first choice to partner Kubica. has the story.

    Vitaly Petrov is the re-branded Lotus Renault team’s first choice to partner Robert Kubica next season, but he must convince the team that he has the focus to perform consistently in 2011, according to team co-owner Gerard Lopez.

    The 26-year-old Russian is set to re-sign for a second season with the team after scoring 27 points during his rookie year. But Lopez believes that he must still demonstrate that he has what it takes to deliver results every weekend.

    “Our preferred choice at this stage is to continue with Vitaly, but he has to sit down with us,” Lopez told AUTOSPORT.

    “Vitaly was having an operation last week, so he didn’t have time to sit down with [team principal] Eric Boullier and the engineers.

    “The situation is that we will make the decision based on that discussion with Vitaly and his understanding of what it means if he stays at the team.

    “Our expectation is that he can do what he did in Hungary or Abu Dhabi more consistently. We know that he has got the speed, but we also know that he sometimes lacks the focus to deliver on a full weekend. If we stay with Vitaly, he has to be able to do that more consistently.”

    The deal with Lotus Cars to re-brand the team will not change Petrov’s situation, and the desire to further exploit business opportunities in Russia will not hurt his chances.

    Boullier believes that Petrov is a strong candidate, but that others remain in contention.

    “The process will remain the same,” said Boullier of the driver decision. “We are clearly considering different options, but Vitaly is one of the strong ones and could remain.

    “I would definitely like to fix everything before Christmas.”

  6. Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus will use the green and yellow livery for next year to avoid the confusion when compared to Lotus Renault GP. has the details.

    Team Lotus will now stick with its green and yellow colours for 2011 after chief Tony Fernandes said it would be ‘ludicrous’ for his squad to run in the same paint scheme as the rebranded Lotus Renault outfit.

    In the wake of the announcement this week that Lotus Cars was buying a stake in the Renault team and becoming its title sponsor, there had been fears that confusion could be caused by both the Enstone outfit and Team Lotus racing with the same black and gold colours for next year.

    However, although Fernandes remains steadfast that he will stick with the Team Lotus moniker, he thinks it better for his outfit to stick with the famous green and yellow brand that it used this season rather than see through his original plans to run in black and gold.

    Speaking exclusively to AUTOSPORT for the first time since the Lotus/Renault announcement, Fernandes said: “I have no problem that there will be two Lotuses on the grid. But I do think it would be ludicrous if we are both black and gold, and I can inform you that we will be changing our plans for the colour scheme.

    “We declared that we were going to run in black and gold, and I’m not going to be childish to say we were first with our plans, so we will do it whatever. They have painted their car black and gold, they have made their intentions clear on that front, so be it.

    “But every cloud has a silver lining, and I received some messages from people suggesting that by being black and gold we would be promoting a cigarette company. I wasn’t actually aware that JPS [John Player Special] was still being sold in the United Kingdom and various parts of the Commonwealth. So did I need that controversy? No.

    “And after yesterday’s announcement by the FIA about the new engine plans for 2013, which means F1 is going green – so what better colour to be than green? So, we have been testing our fans’ reactions and many have come back to us to say we should stay green and yellow. So, I am 99 per cent sure that we will be green and yellow.”

    Fernandes has expressed some frustration that Lotus has decided to team up with Renault, rather than throw its weight behind Team Lotus.

    Speaking about the Lotus Cars decision, Fernandes said: “My first reaction is obviously disappointment. We were originally given a mandate for five years to go and develop a Formula 1 team.

    “There are comments that have emerged in the Malaysian press that Proton was disappointed with our performance, which is one of the reasons that they gave up. I don’t know how anyone in their right mind could expect us to be competing in the top half of the grid, or even up in the bottom half of the grid, last year – having just been given an entry in September.

    “I stand by the fact that I think we did very well in the year and I think that 99 per cent of the paddock would agree considering where we came from. We built a classy team – a team that could do pitstops in the same time as Ferrari. We looked good, we had a good motorhome and performed well on the track with two good drivers.

    “We were the best of the new teams. We had two good drivers and Heikki Kovalainen said he had the greatest season he has had in F1 – which is great testament from a guy who has driven for McLaren and Renault. So I am a bit disappointed that we did not get a chance [from Proton/Group Lotus].”

    He added: “Logically I think we could have built a great brand together. I think this year if anyone says that we didn’t help Lotus then I think they are mad, because we have helped them. And the reaction from the public is very strongly in support of us. So I think given time we would have built something good, and the perfect scenario for me would have been a merger of the two with one ambition.”

    Fernandes has said that he will push on with legal moves to get a clarification on the Lotus name situation in the courts, and said he has been hugely encouraged by messages of support from fans.

    “You cannot win people overnight,” he said. “This support we have got has been built up over a year.

    “As I always say, things take time and things have to be done properly. You cannot parachute yourself into a brand. If you look at all my business strategy I have always believed in organic growth. It needs foundations and it needs strategy. You cannot parachute into something and say it is yours.

    “People are not stupid any more, and I think the reason for the support is the people see we are trying to do something the right way.

    “I am not Colin Chapman, and I never will be. He is a legend and we are not going to emulate him – but everything he did is what we are doing. He built it from scratch and did not buy into anything. You have to have brands that people love. There is lots of competition out there and people have to have respect for what you do.”

    Interview with Tony Fernandes:

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