• Lotus naming dispute

Chapman family backs Group Lotus over Fernandes

ESPNF1 Staff
December 23, 2010 « Bianchi and van der Garde to continue in GP2 | »
Team Lotus has been dealt a blow by the Chapman's statement © Getty Images
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Group Lotus has received the support of Colin Chapman's family in its battle against Tony Fernandes over the use of the historic marque's name.

Last year Fernandes received the blessing of both Group Lotus and the Chapman family to run his new team under the Lotus name, but since then the car company has revoked its licensing agreement and decided to sponsor the Renault Formula One team instead.

In response Fernandes acquired the rights to the Team Lotus name from David Hunt, who had bought them when the original team folded in 1994. Group Lotus is set to contest Fernandes' right to use the name in court, while Fernandes is looking for compensation for Group Lotus' decision to end its licensing agreement early.

In the midst of the legal wrangling, Clive Chapman, the son of founder Colin and owner of Classic Team Lotus, has come out in support of Group Lotus.

"The Chapman Family is impressed by the exciting developments underway at Group Lotus, and it is very grateful to Proton for the significant investment that is being made, to secure a strong future for the excellent workforce at the Hethel factory," a statement published by Autosport.com read.

"In 2010 the Chapman Family and Classic Team Lotus have been pleased to support Group Lotus in many ways. In consultation with Proton, this included supporting the use of the Lotus name in Formula 1, which was licensed by Group Lotus.

"The Chapman Family was impressed by the achievements of Lotus Racing [Fernandes' outfit] as a new team, and appreciated its respect for Team Lotus history. However, then its license to use the Lotus name was terminated and things changed."

Chapman also made clear that he would rather the Team Lotus name, which his father established in 1958, did not return to Formula One.

"During 2010, the Chapman Family, as and when appropriate, made it clear to those involved that it would prefer that the Team Lotus name should not be used in Formula One. Indeed, assurances to this effect were received. The Team Lotus identity represents the motor racing legacy of Colin Chapman, and this was preserved by the Chapman Family and invested within Classic Team Lotus.

He added that Group Lotus' actions were more in the spirit of the original team than Fernandes'.

"The association by Group Lotus with Team Lotus history is much appreciated and entirely appropriate, especially as it is in keeping with how things were in Colin Chapman's time. The Chapman Family is looking forward to continuing to give its support to Group Lotus, which is the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman. After all, the Lotus marque is the responsibility of Group Lotus, and Hethel is the home of Lotus."