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No deal was offered by Group Lotus - Fernandes

ESPNF1 Staff
December 16, 2010 « 2011 FIA Gala to be held in India | »
Tony Fernandes: "It has got too much. Over the last few days I have had attacks from Dany Bahar, Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez" © Sutton Images

Tony Fernandes has flatly denied his team snubbed a partnership with Group Lotus by demanding large sums of money from the car company.

Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar told press on Wednesday that Fernandes was asking for three times as much money as RenaultF1 when approached about a tie-up. However, Fernandes told Autosport.com that no such negotiations took place and has called for an end to the damaging war of words between the two factions.

"There was no such thing as an offer," Fernandes told Autosport.com. "There is an understanding that Lotus' involvement with Renault is worth £20 million, which would therefore mean that I was seeking £60 million - which is a complete fabrication. We never got past an initial dinner meeting. Dany Bahar and Riad Asmat [CEO of Team Lotus] met and that was it. No offers were ever exchanged.

"We were very open to equity sharing, working together and other combinations. We wanted it to work for the good of the Lotus brand - and it made sense to combine."

In recent weeks Group Lotus said it chose to sponsor RenaultF1 in order to be associated with a successful team, but Fernandes said that argument did not necessarily stack up.

"I can state categorically that there is no way we were three times more expensive," he reiterated. "Dany got it into his mind that Mike Gascoyne was old school and that it would take a long, long time for Lotus Racing to be a challenger at the top. I think with the package we have got, towards the end of next season we will be not very far away from RenaultF1 and if he had been a bit more patient, given it a bit more time and been open to news then a super collaboration could have happened."

He added that the dispute over the Lotus name had gone on too long and is concerned it may end up damaging the brand.

"It has got too much," he added. "Over the last few days I have had attacks from Dany Bahar, Eric Boullier and Gerard Lopez. Personally I think it has got a little bit out of hand and a lot of it is fabricated. How Eric Boullier can say we have fooled fans - I think that is an insult to fans. Fans will make up their own mind. If we are not up to the mark they will not give us any support. You cannot fool anyone."