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Renault not laying claim to Lotus' history

ESPNF1 Staff
December 14, 2010 « AirAsia GP2 drivers to replace Fauzy | »
Gerard Lopez does not see his team as a continuation of the original Team Lotus © Sutton Images

Gerard Lopez has made clear that his Lotus Renault team will not lay claim to the history of the prestigious Lotus name in Formula One and believes Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus is not in a position to do so either.

Car manufacturer Group Lotus recently bought into RenaultF1 and the team intends to run under the Lotus Renault GP name in 2011, racing in a black and gold livery reminiscent of the John Player Special-sponsored, Renault-powered Lotuses of the mid 1980s.

Meanwhile Tony Fernandes has purchased the original Team Lotus name - which founder Colin Chapman's cars ran under - so that his team can continue to be associated with the prestigious marque next season.

But Lopez believes neither side can lay claim to the original team's five decades in the sport and insists his deal is purely commercial.

"As far as we're concerned we have had a very pragmatic approach to this, we have been having discussing with Proton and Lotus on a number of projects that are outside of F1, and we have been doing so for a year and a half," Lopez told BBC Radio Oxford. "Formula One came on the back of them no longer having a contract with 1Malaysia Racing, and they proposed for us to work for us together. For Group Lotus and Proton it makes a lot of sense.

"The result of that as far as we are concerned is that I don't think we can lay claim, and Group Lotus cannot lay claim, to the kind of extension and continuity of Mr. Chapman's racing team. I think the claim that has been made by Group Lotus is quite a simple one, which is that this is a Lotus-branded racing team that is attached to Group Lotus who manufacture road cars. And that is it.

"There is no claim that this has anything to do with the Lotus racing team of old, which is not the case for 1Malaysia Racing. And that is where the confusion arises, neither group, neither we nor them, could really lay claim to that."

The naming dispute is set to be decided in court, although it is not entirely clear whether a final decision will be reached before the start of next season.

Lopez was also questioned on Vitaly Petrov's position at the team next year and revealed that a decision would likely be reached either before or just after Christmas.

"I think we have always said that we were going to make a decision on Vitaly and if that decision turns out to be negative then we would look for a different driver," he said. "But as I've said before, and as the team has said before, our main goal is to keep Vitaly as a driver after a year at the team, but it is also our responsibility to sit down with him and discuss the things we like and the things that we don't like. The thing that we didn't like is that he has been very inconsistent, even though he has got the speed.

"The only reason we have delayed [the decision] a little bit is because over the last two weeks he has had eye surgery. But we'll sit down with him either before Christmas or just after and if he accepts a number of changes, which include him moving closer to the factory, then I see no reason why he wouldn't be our second driver."