Group Lotus no longer title sponsor of Lotus F1 team

Lotus F1 Team logo.

Apr.7 (Reuters) A title sponsorship agreement between loss-making Malaysian-owned sportscar maker Group Lotus and Lotus F1 has been cancelled but the team will race on as Lotus, owner Gerard Lopez said on Friday.

(L to R): Gerard Lopez (FRA) Genii Capital and Jackie Stewart (GBR). Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday 24 March 2012.

Gerard Lopez with Sir Jackie Stewart

Lopez, whose Genii Capital runs the team formerly known as Renault that has Finland’s Kimi Raikkonen and France’s Romain Grosjean as drivers, told the autosport.com website that “the sponsorship agreement and the obligations of Lotus have been terminated.

“There is no option from Group Lotus to buy into F1 now,” added the entrepreneur.

Group Lotus had agreed their title sponsorship deal with the British-based team in 2010, and it was supposed to last until the end of 2017 with the ultimate aim of becoming co-owners along with Genii.

The car company is owned by Proton, which has been sold recently by Malaysia’s state investment arm Khazanah to Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom.

The sponsorship development is the latest twist in a long-running and convoluted saga involving one of the sport’s most illustrious and successful team names harking back to the team founded by the late Colin Chapman in the 1950s that chalked up 79 race wins.

Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus

Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes entered F1 in 2010 with Lotus Racing, changing the name to Team Lotus for 2011 after a falling out with Proton and Lotus Group, who had their own plans with Renault.

Last season saw Team Lotus, powered by a Renault engine, compete on the same grid as rivals to Lotus-backed Renault – one outfit designated Team Lotus Renault and the other Lotus Renault.

Fernandes, after an agreement following legal action, changed his team’s name to Caterham for this season while Renault became Lotus.

“We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1,” said Lopez. “When we changed the name from Lotus Renault to Lotus, it opened up the door for a title sponsor.”

Lopez said in February that he would be interested in buying Group Lotus from DRB-Hicom “if we believed that there was something good that can be done by acquiring that company.”

Subbed by AJN.

  • Alex

    Unilever should be title sponsor of this team. They by far more capable and also benefit way more from whole F1 exposure.

  • GPFanatic

    That’s what happens to company with bad investments. Had they teamed and agreed with Tony before, they may even boost their value and increase market share. What they did was a controversy instead of advertisement…

    Now Tony is laughing his way to the bank!!!

  • Butterfly

    At least this Lotus is *far* more capable than Caterham, which is yet to reach the midfield.

  • McLaren fan

    Obviously they did more damage to themselves than good, Tony Fernandes had a plan had Proton stuck with Tony Fernandes rather than go for glory with Renault!!!
    Now they will stay loss-making Malaysian-owned sportscar maker Group Lotus who had a comedy of errors in F1.

  • McLaren fan

    @ Butterfly, the name Lotus is there as it is costly to remove during a season and they are no longer anything to do with Genii Capital, I think Gerard Lopez is against his cars having big black spaces on it, if Clear pay more they could bee on the rear fin.

  • Alex

    If Lotus does good this year, they will be able to get all the financial backing from Unilever they will ever need. More than Ferrari or Mercedes.

    Because Unilever is: Rexona, Sunsilk(Clear), Knorr, Lipton, Hellmann’s, Axe, Dove, Lifebuoy, Lux, TIGI, Vaseline, Domestos, Omo, Surf, Radiant and maaaany more.

    I hope Lotus does very good this year, Kimi for WC!!! :)

  • McLaren fan

    @ Alex:
    That is a very good clear point and that may well be why Gerard Lopez is reluctant to remove all the Lotus branding with immediate affect were as if he waits and Unilever decide to go in with heavy money they can have the big deal and recognition!

  • me262

    @alex

    pure speculation as Unilever first would need intention and justification to increase their F1 commitments…regardless of all this advertising space becoming available. And so far we havent heard of Unilever growing interest to increase their involvment from sponsor to main sponsor…or is your dad Unilever CEO or something? :)

  • Alex

    @me262

    Of course it is a speculation on topic at hand, this is pretty much why we comment :)

    But, intention and justification? I’m not sure I’m following you. I think their intention is pretty CLEAR on that Lotus car and being company Unilever is, they would not do something like that with out justification.

    I do agree, that further justification is needed to bring more of their cash to the team. And I’m sincerely hope that Lotus will be able to show their worth in next couple races (with both drivers).

    ps :) that Rexona add with Kimi, made me try out that deodorant and I find it much better that Rexona stick I was using haha :)

  • Jim

    What about Enstone?
    is it the team headquarter still?
    What about the team?

  • Eli Proffitt

    really editorial