The return of the Lotus name to Formula 1 racing had many race fans applaud the return of a brand that was as closely related to the series than some of the biggest names around today. The 1 Malaysia Racing Team acquired the rights to use the name from Proton and last week team principal Tony Fernandes announced that his group had acquired to use the 'Team Lotus' brand after acquiring it from its supposed owner, David Hunt.
But the meteoric rise of the "best of the new teams" has come to a
screeching halt after Proton announced that it is terminating its
contract with Tony Fernandes and the 1 Malaysia Racing Team, and that
the team is no longer allowed to use the Lotus name in anyway whatsoever
including Lotus F1 and Team Lotus as the Malaysian car assembler
rightfully owns the brands and all the rights to it. The termination of
the contract takes effect in 2011.
This comes as a shame as the team that has been doing so well as a
newcomer. Below is the official statement from Proton about the
retraction of its contract with the 1 Malaysia Racing Team.
Kuala Lumpur, 27 September 2010 – There is and always has been
only one Lotus, the Lotus started by Colin Chapman. From the beginning
Lotus made road cars and raced racing cars. Until 1994, Group Lotus,
the road car manufacturer and Team Lotus, which operated the Formula 1
team, were in common ownership with common directors. In 1994, Team
Lotus failed and Lotus has not raced since. Since 1994, David Hunt has
claimed to have acquired assets of Team Lotus, including its name, from
the liquidator. He has never raced as Lotus. Mr. Hunt’s attempt to
acquire the name Team Lotus was ineffective. Group Lotus is the owner of
all rights in the "Lotus" automotive brand including those relating to
Last year, Tony Fernandes and 1 Malaysia Racing Team recognised this
by taking a licence from Group Lotus to use the "Lotus" brand for the
"Lotus Racing" team in the current Formula 1 season. With PROTON’s
agreement, Group Lotus has now terminated its licence to 1 Malaysia
Racing Team to use the "Lotus Racing" brand in the 2011 and future
Formula 1 seasons as a result of the flagrant and persistent breaches of
the licence by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, which were damaging to the
Following that termination, neither 1 Malaysia Racing Team, nor any
other company associated with Mr. Fernandes such as Tune Group Sdn Bhd
or Team Lotus Ventures Limited, has the authority of Group Lotus to use
any "Lotus" brand in the 2011 Formula 1 season. This includes the use
of the brand "Team Lotus".
Group Lotus understands that Mr. Fernandes intends to rebrand the
current "Lotus Racing" Formula 1 team to "Team Lotus" for the 2011
Formula 1 season. Mr. Fernandes indicates that Tune Group has acquired
the rights to the name "Team Lotus" from a business formerly owned by
David Hunt called Team Lotus Ventures Limited. Group Lotus believes
these rights to have no proper legal foundation, a fact of which Mr.
Fernandes was well aware when his company purchased them.
PROTON will support Group Lotus in taking all necessary steps to
protect its rights in the "Lotus" name, including resisting any attempts
by Mr. Fernandes or his companies, or any other unauthorised person, to
use the "Lotus" name in the 2011 Formula 1 season.
Dato’ Sri Mohd. Nadzmi Mohd. Salleh, Chairman of PROTON Holdings
Berhad and Group Lotus commented, "We believe the Lotus brand to be one
of the most valuable brands in Formula 1 today. We are the owners of
this brand, and will take all necessary steps to protect it. Tony
Fernandes has no rights to use the Lotus brand in the 2011 Formula 1
season, and we will strongly resist any attempts by him to use our brand
without our permission and will withdraw our sponsorship of the Lotus
“To put it simply, Group Lotus is everything Lotus. The fact that 1
Malaysia Racing Team entered into an agreement with Group Lotus to use
the brand means that both Mr. Fernandes and 1 Malaysia Racing Team
recognises and acknowledges Group Lotus’ rights,” he added.