Thursday, December 2, 2010

Lotus-Lotus On the Wall...

Who’s the fairest Team Lotus of ‘Dem All? As I was tempted to use my working title instead: LUDRICOUS-LUDRICOUS! Having previously scribbled ‘bout the ensuing Lotus F1 Team Moniker ‘Scrum in Will the real Team Lotus please Stand Up;

“I’d have to say it’s somewhat amusing, albeit irksome to think that there’s a Tug ‘O War going on over such a great name from the past... As I’m sorry Mr. Fernandes, but Team Lotus is DEAD! And died a whimpering, miserable death way back in 1994...”

As Y’all may notice my initial impression was pretty cool towards the rebirth of Lotus Racing, which I saw as nothing more then a glitzy Public Relations/Marketing move – intended to stoke the emotions ‘O Yesteryear and those glory days of Colin Chapman’s Team Lotus dynasty...

Yet, as I still wasn’t inclined to get onboard the Good Ship Loti – instead preferring to refer to it as Team Lotus 2.0, nevertheless things change, as I first became very confused over the spotting of two rival entities declaring they would both use the Lotus moniker next season, perhaps even in Formula One; WTF?

As in all of my years of following Grand Prix racing, which ironically my earliest memory is of Ayrton Senna winning the Detroit Grand Prix in a black & gold John Player Special Lotus-Renault... I cannot recall there ever being a ‘Scrum by two rival teams tussling over the same name. So if it has happened then please forgive me –Otay?

Now for humour’s sake, just exactly what is in a Formula 1 Constructor’s name? As in the case of today’s Renault, is it really Renault? Recall that the factory “Works” team has been in-and-out of F1 over the past century; with Renault Sport actually having first joined the modern Formula One Championship by racing cars from 1977-85, before pulling out in ’86 when its remaining three customer engine supply deals ended. Then le Reggie came back as an engine supplier from 1989-97, before they pulled the ‘Ol Auto Giants game of simply buying a current Constructor instead of starting from scratch – when they took over Benetton beginning in 2002, whilst Benetton can trace its roots back to the former Toleman Motorsport circa 1981-85...

Yet, the case of whom the current “Rights” holder of Team Lotus seems overly concise to Mwah – as in a one Mr. Tony Fernandes,

Who have bought the name from Team Lotus ventures Ltd
Custodian David Hunt, brother of the late 1976 World Champion James Hunt, who in-turn purchased it from Peter Collins and the Chapman family upon the once mighty Grand Prix team’s collapse. (Which I witnessed first hand way back when via le Telescreen...)

Now obviously I do not know Mr. Hunt, Fernandes or Dany Bahar, who’s the current CEO of Group Lotus – and has embarked the Proton Motor Company on a very aggressive marketing path in order to pit Lotus vs. Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin. (Not to mention Supercar player’s McLaren and Lamborghini...) In the ultra high stakes arena of Exoticar’s...

Yet, if what Messer Hunt has told in an interview reportedly done with Peter Windsor; claiming brusquely that Group Lotus has sat on its hands for 13yrs, has had a document outlining a similar Formula 1 revival a la Fernandes’s Lotus Racing and are now simply trying to be Bully Boyz and STEAL the Sweeties away from him... Then I’m inclined to tell Group Lotus to BUGGER OFF!

Hunt speaks out in Lotus naming rights row

Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandes seems to not only be an extremely shrewd businessman, having risen thru the ranks of Virgin and Warner Brother music before masterminding the turnaround of Air Asia, Malaysia’s troubled Government owned airline. Along with doing his “Due Diligence,” something that the Malaysian Government-backed Proton Group has failed to do; not to mention the fact that Mr. Fernandes seems to have gone about the correct way of carefully resurrecting the prestigious name of Lotus; from inviting members of the Chapman family and ex-Team Lotus drivers to the Gala Kick-off event. (Sir Stirling Moss & Nigel Mansell) Reviving the revered green & yellow livery scheme to securing the Team Lotus rights, finishing as Best of the New Teams by clinching tenth place in the Constructors Championship, aggressively targeting a move into the Midpack of the F1 Grid in 2011 and so-on and so-on...

Thus I now find myself totally behind Mr. Fernandes GP Team and hope that he will indeed legally fight his naming rights battle to the bitter end; which is to be heard in the High Courts of London sometime soon...

On the other hand I know absolutely nothing ‘bout Mr. Bahar, except for his past linkage with la Scuderia, (Ferrari) where he just left the job of Senior Vice President, responsible for Global Automotive sales and the F1 Team’s Marketing & Merchandising departments.

And Mr. Bahar, who just came aboard Lotus Cars in late 2009, has set out upon an overly ambitious plan to revitalize the Lotus brand name, hoping to vault to the top ‘O the heap in a scant three years time. Having convinced the Malaysian Government which holds an 42-plus percent stake in Proton, to invest a mere $770 million to introduce a range of seven new Loti’s by 2016 – and utilize ANY Motorsports markets as the marketing platform to bolster the brand image, thus the urge to return to Formula One, Indy Car and American Le Mans toot-sweet...

Yet, I worry that Lotus may pull a Spyker? Does anybody recall the Spyker Formula 1 Team exclusively snapped-up from Midland in order to spotlight the specialty car Auto manufacturer’s revitalization. Hmm? How did that work out again? Can you say Force India...? Hence could Lotus Motorsports activities simply disappear overnight if the Malaysian Government decides to quit funding this project...? (And do NOT even get me started upon the “Body-by-Mennen/AFX Aero kit” formulae!)

Yet it seems to be a battle ‘O ego’s to me as the 38yr old Swiss Dany Bahar appears to be prepared to go to loggerheads versus his senior (46yr old) Malaysian counterpart Tony Fernandes, albeit I now sit firmly on the Messer Fernandes side of the fence, as I’m NOT terribly impressed by anyone who’s a BULLY!

Thus, I’ll find myself awfully hard-pressed to grant the new Lotus who wants to become Lotus a spot upon my F1 Team Links section in 2011 if Group Lotus is successful of shoving Fernandez & Co. outta the way – since I’m a huge Krakow Kid (Robert Kubica) Fan... And I think Vitaly “VO5” Petrov isn’t half bad either; Oh Whale, eh?

And although I personally think the “Powers-to-Be” in F1, the FIA and FOTA should be embarrassed by how much confusion this is garnering their sport; keep in mind Uncle Bernaughty is overly pleased by this... Especially as he’s already publicly noted how if Mr. Fernandes wishes to seek a totally new team name next season – he’ll be forced to LOSE all associativity with his current moniker this season, i.e.; ZERO PRIZE MONEY for winning the coveted tenth Constructor spot upon the 2010 F1 Grid. And gee Wally, DON’T we all know how much Messer Bernard likes to scribble out cheques, right? (Uhm? I think Bernie’s busy watch shopping right now...)

As recall that BRAWN GP lost all of the Honda Constructor money when their deal was done, albeit I’ve never heard ‘bout Mercedes cost of buying BRAWN... Yet, you can understand why Group Lotus surely wouldn’t wish to lose Renault F1’s current Constructor status – although I’d be much more impressed if they were just going to come aboard as Proton Grand Prix instead... Although I’m guessing it’s NOT quite as sexy as Lotus, eh?

Then again, you’ve gotta wonder if it was such a Slam Dunk case, then why did Fernandes & Co. feel so inclined to secure a license from Group Lotus this year to go racing as Lotus Racing F1?

Yet, as always, “Willie Buxom,” nee Mr. Will Buxton has summed this all up way more succinctly then myself in;

Lotus, Lotus, the Beatles and a solution!