The Formula 1 fraternity is currently at the 2011 Italian GP in Monza and this congregation has churned out an interesting rumor about the Tony Fernandes-led Team Lotus. According to James Allen’s website, a middle ground has been reached between Tony Fernandes and Proton-owned Group Lotus over the naming conflict.
Apparently Fernandes has agreed to give up the Team Lotus name and is currently applying to use the name Caterham F1 Team via the FIA and FOM. As you would know, Caterham was recently added to Fernandes’ umbrella along with the Queens Park Rangers football club.
According to the website, this will also trickle down to the GP2 team with the name of Caterham Team Air Asia. You can safely expect Fernandes to use the Caterham brand in all of his motorsport endeavors and perhaps you might see a Formula 1-inspired road car by Caterham too.
With the new name, it is said that the yellow-green colour combo will be retained, minus the Lotus badge of course. This would definitely make Group Lotus boss Dany Bahar a very happy man who would be able to rename Lotus Renault to Team Lotus in the future.
You might wonder how all of these came about. James Allen revealed that the deal was part of the MAS-Air Asia partnership that was struck recently. Apparently, ending the Lotus fiasco was part of the government’s end of the partnership requirement which makes sense.
Regarding the issue of renaming the chassis, Fernandes should be able to do it as long as he receives a unanimous agreement by the competing teams. There is also news that Team Lotus will be relocated to Leafield in Oxford, away from Norfolk where it calls home at the moment. Leafield houses a former TWR facility which could be used by the squad.
It is also said that the team is currently expanding its man power. In my perspective, this is a very sensible move if there is any truth behind the rumor in the first place. It would put the naming conflict which started last season to a peaceful end and confusion over two Lotus brands in Formula 1 will come to a stop as well.