From what I gather, Tony Fernandez's Lotus Racing team (the one that raced all season in 2010 with Heikki and Jarno) is the ONLY legitimate Lotus F1 team.
The complication stems from the effective splitting of the Lotus name in 1996 when Proton purchased "Lotus" specifically for branding their road cars. Proton was actually surprised to find out that David Hunt retained rights to "Team Lotus" for F1 racing; so David Hunt is not exactly a saint in this situation. Neither is the Chapman family. They supposedly split the Lotus name in 1991 when he sold "Team Lotus" to Peter Collins. Meanwhile, Group Lotus remained a "3rd party sponsor" of Lotus F1 from 1991-94, when they jumped ship.
If you're still with me, we're past the confusing part; because "Team Lotus" raced two events in 1994 ALONE, with no sponsorship from Group Lotus. This was the effective split, both physically and mentally, of the brand name "Lotus." David Hunt then purchased all rights to Team Lotus and everything was made legal in the U.K. courts back then. In fact, in 1996, David Hunt approached the Malaysian-based Proton (Proton had just purchased "Group Lotus") asking them whether they were interested in forming an F1 racing team. That's when things got ugly.
Proton was sure they had purchased the rights to the F1 racing team when they bought Group Lotus. David Hunt sat on the F1 brand for 16 years which suggests he may have abandoned it. But, from what I see, he has always had the intent to bring the name back to Formula 1, which means he never actually abandoned the brand name. Apparently Tony Fernandez was confused when he formed Lotus Racing for 2010 since he approached Group Lotus to secure a license. However, this just ignited a maelstrom since David Hunt immediately began asserting his own rights. Tony Fernandez, probably trying to mediate and make everyone happy, signed a deal with David Hunt so Lotus Racing could officially become Team Lotus; the true F1 team. One thing is certain; Tony Fernandez is not to blame for this fiasco. David Hunt and Proton have tangled themselves up in this mess and in the process, have gotten poor Tony all mixed up in it.
So that leaves us with Group Lotus. They are trying to assert their own farcical rights to the F1 brand, but don't yet realize that they will fail. However; and this is very, very weird; Group Lotus, like every other company in the world, has every right to become a paying sponsor of an F1 team. They've realized this and have officially become a "title sponsor" (think Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro and Panasonic Toyota) of Renault. This means that they can name themselves "Lotus" Renault GP (the Lotus being the Proton car manufacturer, NOT the F1 racing team). Despite all the baloney about "Lotus" Renault being its own F1 team, it's really just Renault with Lotus colors and the Lotus name. Renault is the true constructor of that car.
So, if you're going to root for Lotus, make sure it's the right one. Tony Fernandez's Team Lotus is the ONLY true Lotus. "Lotus" Renault is really just Renault with some $$$ coming in from a Malaysian auto company.
Last edited by Jonsson
on Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.