Yeongam (South Korea): Renault and Team Lotus should be allowed to change their names in the interest of Formula One without rivals demanding favours in return for their agreement, according to Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn.
"I guarantee those teams that are trying to change their name will have had approaches from other teams who want different favours paid in order to agree to the name change," he told reporters at the South Korean Grand Prix.
"And that`s not correct. I know that happened to us when we wanted to change our name. People sought to get favours from that decision."
Brawn GP, whose name was changed in 2009 from Honda after the Japanese company pulled out of the sport, won that season`s world championships.
They were then taken over by Mercedes, who had provided the engines, but the second name change in as many years proved trickier when the team needed the approval of 18 of the 26 members of the FIA`s Formula One commission.
Group Lotus-sponsored Renault and Team Lotus want to change their names, with the former becoming Lotus and the latter Caterham, but an attempt to fast-track the decision was abandoned after some F1 stakeholders expressed concern.
That would end a confusing situation where the sport has two Malaysian-backed, Renault-powered teams with Lotus in their name and also end the anomaly of having a team whose name no longer reflects its ownership.
French carmaker Renault has sold its stake in the team that bears its name to Genii Capital, with Malaysian-owned Group Lotus the title sponsor.
Team Lotus is owned by Malaysian aviation entrepreneur Tony Fernandes, who has acquired niche sportscar firm Caterham after falling out with Group Lotus.
"It doesn`t make any sense for a team to be called Renault when it isn`t Renault," said Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose championship-winning team has become Renault`s main partner.
"Therefore a name change in a situation like that makes sense.”
"I think where Formula One needs to be a little bit careful is that the teams are brands ... there needs to be more careful consideration given to the names of teams and the mechanism by which they can be changed.”
"We also have to be careful that it just doesn`t end up in a merry-go-round and companies that have the same company number just change effectively the entrant name on a yearly basis."
With the exception of multiple champions Ferrari, McLaren and Williams, all teams have undergone name changes over time. Red Bull were previously Jaguar and Stewart.
Team Lotus entered the sport in 2010 as Lotus Racing, changing at the end of the season after falling out with Group Lotus over the use of their original name.
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, whose cars are powered by Mercedes engines and who acts as chairman of the teams` body FOTA, agreed with Brawn.
"I recall ... when there was a desire to change the (Brawn) team name to Mercedes Benz, how a number of people conspired against that, which was a ridiculous position to take and very damaging to the sport," he said.
"If it`s clear that the name change facilitates the funding and the retention of that team within Formula One, then we shouldn`t use the polemics and politics of Formula One to prevent it."
First Published: Saturday, October 15, 2011, 10:50