Berthold Bouman, F1 Correspondent
In a joint statement, Group Lotus Plc and PROTON Holdings Berhad1Malaysia Racing Team, Caterham Cars and Tony Fernandes have announced the by Fernandes led 1Malaysia Racing Team, currently known as Team Lotus, will change their name and in 2012 will officially compete under the name Caterham F1 Team using a Caterham named chassis.
According to the statement an agreement has finally been reached after many months of uncertainty about who was the legal owner of the brand name “Lotus”. Fernandes took the matter to a British High Court earlier this year, which did not really solve the problem as both parties claimed victory after the Court had ruled Team Lotus were still allowed to use their current name, and Lotus Renault were also allowed to keep using the “Lotus” brand name.
It was already suspected Fernandes was only allowed to use the name Lotus during the remainder of the 2011 season, and when the Malaysian entrepreneur purchased the British Caterham Cars sports car company a few months ago, rumors already circulated Fernandes would rename his Team Lotus outfit using the Caterham brand name. During a meeting of the Formula One Commission last week, it emerged both Team Lotus and the Anglo/Malaysian/Luxenbourg Lotus Renault team had applied for a name change, which was today officially confirmed in the statement.
The statement read, “Proton, Group Lotus, 1Malaysia Racing Team and its owner Tony Fernandes are delighted to announce that the legal dispute in the English Courts relating to the "LOTUS" and "TEAM LOTUS" brands has now ended amicably with the parties agreeing settlement terms earlier this month.” The statement also mentioned the terms of the agreement are confidential, but “the deal sees the "LOTUS" brand reunited under the sole ownership of Group Lotus. This includes the rights to the "LOTUS" and "TEAM LOTUS" names in Formula 1 motor racing.”
Group Lotus Chief Executive Officer Dany Bahar, “On behalf of Group Lotus and Proton I would like to express how pleased we are that this matter is finally closed and we can now focus on looking forward to the future.”
He also admitted the situation this season had been confusing for the fans as well, “We understand that this has been a very difficult and confusing time for the fans of the sport and the Lotus brand so we are glad to have reached a clear resolution on this important matter – I would like to take this opportunity to thank our fans for their continued support, it means everything to us.”
Riad Asmat, Group CEO of Team Lotus, "We are proud of what we have achieved by bringing the Team Lotus name back to Formula One when many tried and although we are sad to say goodbye to Team Lotus we are excited about owning our own future and being in control of our own destiny. Now we have no one to be compared to. We make our own history and we will remain green and yellow.”
And he added, “Now we look forward to an exciting future racing under our new team name of Caterham F1 Team. Please continue to support our very special spirit of never say die and support us on the track as we move up the field and demonstrate that the good do win."
The statement also mentioned “The deal also sees a working relationship established between the parties and they will work together on future projects in the automotive field.”
Lotus Renault already announced they would change their chassis name to “Lotus” and in a statement Team Principal Eric Boullier said, “We are very pleased that our chassis name change has been approved [by the F1 Commission]. We have said all along that, in the interests of the sport, it is important that we remove any ambiguity on this matter. It is also important that there are clearly identifiable teams on the grid, and today’s announcement goes some way towards ensuring that. It is the start of another chapter for Enstone, but not a whole new beginning. The team’s history and experience will allow us to take up this challenge with a controlled and swift process. We’re very much looking forward to 2012.”