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Group Lotus expects speedy end to naming dispute

ESPNF1 Staff
January 17, 2011 « Formula One 'needs a Frenchman on the grid' | »
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar: "If we have to go the legal way, we will - and our shareholders will support that" © Getty Images

Group Lotus is confident its naming dispute with Team Lotus will be resolved before it reaches London's High Court.

As things stand there will be two teams on the gird in 2011 running under the Lotus name: Renault with Group Lotus sponsorship and Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus, which bought the original F1 team's name last year when Group Lotus revoked its naming licence.

Neither side shows any sign of giving in, with Renault revealing its 2011 black and gold Lotus livery last weekend and Team Lotus releasing a video showing the re-branding of its Hingham factory with the famous ACBC logo. A court verdict is not expected before the summer, but Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar is confident it won't come to that.

"I don't think it will be a matter solved by English courts," he told the BBC. "I think it will be solved before that. But if we have to go the legal way, we will - and our shareholders will support that," he added, referring to the Malaysian carmaker Proton.

Bahar has ambitious plans for Group Lotus, with five new road cars planned over the coming years. He intends to use motorsport as a promotional device, announcing forays into F1 with Renault, GP2 with ART, an IndyCar team and entries into various sportscar categories.

"In this industry, you have a choice," he said. "You can use conventional marketing methods, by investing in classical advertising channels like TV and print. Or - and this is what I prefer - you could invest in activities that reflect your products, in our case motor racing. This way, customers can experience the technologies that we develop in racing.

"When I arrived with a new management team, we had our own ideas and plans and that's nobody's fault, not the shareholders' and not Mr Fernandes' fault. We have a crystal clear vision of where we want to go in future. I think with any business relationship, you start on good terms and if it turns out to be beneficial for both parties, you continue. If not, you just stop -- it's like in a marriage. And this one turned out to be an unsuccessful relationship."

Group Lotus' motorsport boss Claudio Berro made clear that his side would not back down.

"We build cars and we are shareholders of Renault F1, so we have the right to put our name on the team," Italiaracing quoted him as saying. "Fernandes does not, because we have revoked his license."