Lotus v Lotus: What's in a name?

Story highlights

  • Two Formula One teams have fought over the Lotus name in recent years
  • Lotus won seven constructors' titles and six drivers' crowns before withdrawing in 1994
  • Malaysian Tony Fernandes reintroduced the Lotus name with 'Team Lotus' in 2010
  • Renault have been rebranded as Lotus for 2012, while Team Lotus are now Caterham

In the glitz and glamor world of Formula One, image is everything.

The leading teams such as Ferrari and McLaren have built formidable reputations off the back of on-track excellence.

Another constructor with a similarly lofty reputation is Lotus, a team which has origins dating back to a car made by Briton Colin Chapman which first raced in 1948.

Lotus went on to win six drivers' championships and seven constructors' titles before withdrawing from the elite division of motorsport in 1994 after entering administration.

The opportunity to reintroduce such an historic name into F1 was one not be missed for a businessman looking to put a car on the track.

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And so it proved. Malaysian Tony Fernandes, the owner of Air Asia and English football team Queens Park Rangers, resurrected the name for the 2010 season with the CNN-sponsored Team Lotus.

But the issue was complicated in 2011, when the Renault team announced a sponsorship deal which would see them renamed as Lotus. So how could a situation arise where two teams were competing under the same name?

"Last year we had the weird situation where two teams were calling themselves Lotus," associate editor of MotorSport magazine Ed Foster told CNN.

"Team Lotus had the naming rights to use the name 'Team Lotus'. And of course there was Lotus Renault which was the Renault team that was sponsored by Lotus the car company."

A lengthy legal battle ensued, the result of which saw Renault buy the Lotus name from Team Lotus who were subsequently rebranded as Caterham F1. But why did both constructors go to such extreme lengths to secure the Lotus name?

"It's a huge name in the history of the sport and they wanted to heighten their profile," explained Foster. "If you've got a big name you'll attract the big sponsors.

"Even if Lotus wasn't at the front of the grid last year, they are still going to attract more sponsors than for example HRT.

"Nobody knows who HRT are outside of F1, however I can ask my mother and she knows who Lotus is and that's the big difference. They can attract the sponsors, they get the money in and from that they can build a stronger team."

Lotus have a rich history in F1, with a list of former drivers which includes British double world champion Jim Clark, Austrian 1970 title winner Jochen Rindt and legendary Brazilian racer Ayrton Senna.

"Certainly Lotus dominated F1 to such an extent in the 60s that it became recognised as the place to go to get a quick car," explained Chapman's son, Clive. "My father had the reputation for designing fast cars."

Understandably, Renault, now Lotus, are delighted to have acquired their illustrious name. The two men who will be behind the wheel for Lotus in 2012 are 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen and Frenchman Romain Grosjean.

"We found a great partnership with a brand like Lotus which has a huge history in Formula 1," Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez said. "It made a lot of sense for us to take advantage of that."

      F1 teams and drivers for 2012

    • If the last two years are anything to go by, 2012 will once again see every other team and driver trying to keep pace with Red Bull.
    • Britain's McLaren are the third most successful team in F1 history, with their eight constructors' titles only bettered by Williams and Ferrari.
    • Ferrari are the most successful team in Formula One history, with the legendary Italian marque boasting a record 31 world titles.
    • Having taken over the world champion Brawn GP team ahead of the 2010 season, Mercedes have struggled to be serious title contenders.
    • Having competed under the Renault name in 2011, the rebranded Lotus team enter the new season hoping to avoid last year's off-track issues.
    • Williams' form in recent years has not been befitting of a team boasting one of Formula One's richest legacies.
    • Sauber have been involved in F1 since 1993, but arguably the team's greatest contribution to the sport has been handing a debut to Sebastian Vettel.
    • Force India entered the elite division of motorsport when Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol purchased the now-defunct Spyker team in 2007.
    • Last year Toro Rosso continued to emerge from Red Bull Racing's shadow in only their second season as an independent constructor.
    • It's been a preseason of change at CNN-sponsored Caterham, having been rebranded after competing under the Lotus name for the past two years.
    • Initially known as Campos Meta 1 and then Hispania Racing, the HRT team are still seeking stability after a less than spectacular entrance into F1 in 2010.
    • The rebranded Marussia team were plagued with problems in the buildup to the 2012 season as the MR01 failed the final official crash test.