Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
The Formula One Commission has during a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland approved the name changes for the Lotus Renault, Team Lotus and Marussia Virgin Racing Formula One teams. From the 2012 season onwards, Lotus Renault will be simply Lotus, as the French Renault car company no longer owns a majority stake in the now Anglo/Malaysian/Luxembourg team, as since the beginning of this year Luxembourg investor Genii Capital and the Malaysian Group Lotus own the majority of the Formula One team, which is still to be powered by Renault engines.
A British High Court this year decided Lotus Renault were allowed to continue to use the name Lotus, while Team Lotus, owned and led by Malaysian Tony Fernandes was allowed to continue the brand name Lotus as well.
This confusing situation has now finally been resolved as Fernandes’ Team Lotus will be competing under the Caterhams flag next season after Fernandes purchased the Caterham sports car manufacturer a few months ago. The British Caterham Cars produces replicas of the famous Lotus Seven, designed by the late Colin Chapman, who founded the original Lotus Formula One team in the 1950s.
Marussia Virgin Racing will next season compete under the Marussia name, as the Russian sports car manufacturer has bought a major share in the originally British Virgin Racing team. Main sponsor of the Marussia team will still be Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin empire.
Marussia Virgin has recently together with Force India formed a partnership with McLaren to share technical knowledge, a move that was also on the agenda of today’s meeting, as many perceived these partnerships would not be in compliance with the Concorde Agreement, an agreement between Formula teams, the sports governing body the FIA (Federation Internationale de L’Automobile), and the commercial rights holders FOM and CVC. According to the agreement teams have to design and produce the whole car including the chassis themselves, while engine, gearbox and KERS unit may be purchased.
There have been no official statements about the outcome of the meeting, but earlier this week McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh commented, “Our agreement with Force India has been approved by the FIA and FOM. It is a collaboration in some areas in which third-party services are allowed.” And added, “For us this is a business model that is within the rules.”
It was also reported the 2012 calendar has also been approved the Formula One Commission, as there were doubts about the Bahrain and Korean Grands Prix.
Although the Formula One Commission approved the changes, they also have to be approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council during a meeting scheduled for December 7 this year.