This year, as you have probably noticed, there are two Formula One teams sporting the fabled Lotus brand name across their bodywork. Confused? So am I. So that’s why, after some investigation, I’m putting the story straight on which of the teams is most deserved of Colin Chapman’s famous five-letter moniker.
Lotus Renault GP:
Formally known as the Renault F1 Team, Lotus Renault GP has the support of Colin Chapman’s son, Clive Chapman, who is the current managing director of Classic Team Lotus. Not only this but they have sponsorship backing from Group Lotus – the company responsible for building Lotus road cars like the Elise. Depending on how things go during the 2011 season, Group Lotus will be able to buy shares in the team thereby strengthening their association.
Controlled by Tony Fernandes, a Malaysian entrepreneur responsible for Air Asia, Team Lotus was the first outfit to bring the Lotus badge back into Formula One. Though not supported by either Clive Chapman nor Group Lotus, this team claims that they hold the rights to the original Team Lotus name after acquiring them from former Team Lotus owner, David Hunt. Brother of the late 1976 World Champion, James Hunt, David took over Team Lotus back in 1994 with hopes of resurrecting the team to its former glory. It never happened and, in 2009, he sold out. Interestingly enough, however, Fernandes has just purchased Caterham Cars – the company that makes replicas of the Lotus Seven sports car that helped put Colin Chapman on the map in the first place.
So who’s the most legit?
Considering the support of Clive Chapman and the buy-in from Group Lotus, I’d have to say that Lotus Renault GP are the most authentic throwback to the gold and black team that proved so successful back in the ’60s and ’70s. However, having said that, there is a lot to be said for the smaller Team Lotus in that they supposedly have the rights to the original nomenclature. Regardless, both teams are adamant that they’re the real deal – something that’s sure to see nothing short of a lengthy resolution.
Team Lotus are ‘the real Team Lotus’, whereas Lotus Cars are merely sponsors of the Renault team. It’s very simple really.
You don’t call a McLaren a Vodafone so you can’t call a Renault a Lotus. The Proton-backed Lotus is just a title sponsor, with no design input. In F1, cars are called by chassis & engine, so it’s really a Lotus-Renault vs Renault-Renault.