Tony Fernandes could be in trouble. The court case to decide who owns the rights to the ‘Team Lotus‘ name begins today: before the season starts, thanks to the cancellation of the Bahrain GP, though it is likely to last until the end of next week. I will admit to supporting Fernandes’ side (as if that wasn’t obvious already) but his campaign might be in trouble. Maybe.
David Hunt was the previous owner of the name, and he claims that he hasn’t been fully paid for the name, and that the team are trying to get away with a ludicrous payment. On the other hand, Team Lotus claim it is Hunt who is trying to renegotiate the contract.
That’s not the only issue: Fernandes also claims that Group Lotus unlawfully terminated the licensing agreement for the Lotus Racing name. This is an issue that will also be addressed over the next two weeks.
This is an absolutely insane scenario, and it would be a much more sensible option to settle out of court. But the parties are never going to come to agreement. I doubt that Fernandes would ever want to license anything from Group Lotus any more. Part of me suspects that Dany Bahar is the most at fault for this, deciding once he became Group Lotus CEO that he’d rather have an awesome F1 team than one still in its infancy. And now he’s a director of Lotus Renault GP. Fulfilling a childhood dream, maybe, but at the expense of a lot of other people.
Australia may be the only race for Team Lotus. Who knows what they’ll be called by their home race, Malaysia? The fans are in general supportive of Team Lotus, though there are also those who support Group Lotus. I will continue to support them, whether they retain the Lotus name or become Team AirAsia F1. But please retain the green and yellow colour scheme: it is amazing!