Putting aside the saga of their possible name in next year’s Formula One, Team Lotus, as it is known as of today, are targeting a top seven finish in the 2011 season.
Or at least that is what the principal owners of the team have targeted while CEO Riad Asmat was more pragmatic by stating that they will be more then happy to improve two notches, from their 10th place finish in 2010 to an eight placing in next season.
Riad, quiet and unassuming was prepared for the tough questions during a meet the media session held in Damansara this morning. In his opening remarks, it was the normal stuff, saying that the team was happy with what they had achieved and outlined their aspirations for the year to come.
But it when asked on the court case involving the usage of the name Lotus that one could see the concern on Riad’s face.
“It will be a long affair, perhaps it might take a whole year, meaning the season could well be over before a decision is made by the court of law,” conceded Riad.
“Really no one would want to be in such a situation, but this is something we have to face. In the meantime we are going through our motions as usual.”
But the irony is two Malaysians fighting for a name, with millions at stake.
Where is commonsense and why has the Malaysian government not stepped in as its quite clear that on one part its public funding (with Proton reportedly willing to spend USD100 million) while the other party comprises of top individual businessmen sporting the 1Malaysia identity as well as naming the company 1Malaysia in their application to FIA.
What will be the reaction of Proton, say for example if Air Asia or Naza makes a bid to be the main sponsors of the Badminton Association of Malaysia? Currently BAM receives some RM2 million from Proton. Let’s double that Naza or Air Asia and see if a few feathers are ruffled in Proton.
There has often been more than one Lotus team in F1. The first Lotus F1 victory by Stirling Moss was in a privately entered Rob Walker dark blue Lotus, not a green works car i.e. we had 2 teams of Lotus cars in F1, each easily distinguished by the fans.
There were no concerns from the Lotus Company about what a “Rob Walker Lotus” was doing to their “brand values”, probably because it was enhancing them.
Who can forget the 1968 British GP at Silverstone? No fan was confused by the Rob Walker Lotus 49 (dark blue with a white hoop) of Jo Siffert winning after the works Gold Leaf Team Lotus cars (red, white & gold) retired.
Possibly the best article on the Lotus situation was written by SpeedTV correspondent Will Buxton, on his personal blog. A sample:
“Lotus ran this year as Lotus under a license from Lotus, but in Singapore Lotus announced that next year it would be changing its name from Lotus to Lotus. This news was immediately met with a statement from Lotus which said that it had the rights to use the Lotus name and that Lotus did not, so Lotus could not change its name from Lotus to Lotus. Next season Lotus will not allow Lotus to call itself Lotus because Lotus wants to do a deal to take over Renault and call it Lotus so Lotus will have to call itself something else other than Lotus.”
Buxton perfectly encapsulates the ridiculousness of the situation, which has Group Lotus and Team Lotus – two different entities – fighting it out for the rights to race as Lotus.
Further complicating the story is the fact that Group Lotus are expected to buy into Renault, creating a Lotus-Renault, while Fernandes’ team will be Renault-powered, also making them Lotus-Renault.