Team Lotus eye step up as Caterham F1
Sao Paulo: Re-named Team Lotus can look forward to real progress as Caterham in Formula One next season now that a row over the use of the Lotus brand has been resolved, team boss Tony Fernandes said.
This year has had the confusion of Renault-powered Team Lotus and Group Lotus-backed Renault competing as rivals, with an agreement finally reached that will see both change their names in 2012.
Team Lotus will become Caterham F1, a British-based niche sportscar marque now owned by Fernandes which has plans to market three new lightweight models from 2014, while Renault will be renamed as Lotus.
"I think next year could be a defining year for us, and it will be great that it will be in our own name," Fernandes told reporters in a Brazilian Grand Prix briefing to detail the Caterham Group reorganisation.
"I am quite amazed how we have been able to make progress and get sponsors with all that`s been happening behind us," added the Malaysian entrepreneur.
"That`s cleared now, so many sponsors who held back are now coming in. They like the story, they like the strategy, they like the fact that we have a presence in Asia so hopefully we`ll have the right financial resources to be able to move up the grid."
Team Lotus started out last year as Lotus Racing, changing their original name after a falling out with Malaysian-owned Group Lotus, who had become Renault`s title sponsor.
The two sides went to court, with a decision allowing Team Lotus to keep using that name in F1, but Fernandes has since sold the rights to Group Lotus.
"I`ve always thought a Formula One team should be associated with a car company," he said. "Of course my plan was Lotus. That went spectacularly wrong in many ways.”
"At least I know the English legal system," he joked. "I don`t need to go and do a law degree any more thanks to Group Lotus. But I always say there is a silver lining everywhere."
Team Lotus, like Lotus Racing, have yet to win a point in Formula One and Fernandes said that was the main aim for 2012.
Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen will definitely be one of the drivers, with Fernandes saying "I`ll hold on to him whatever."
Italian Jarno Trulli also has a contract but his position appears less certain with some sources suggesting that Red Bull could be seeking to place highly-rated Australian Daniel Ricciardo with the team.
"Right now we have a contract and he (Trulli) will race," was all Fernandes would say.
The team are also planning a move from Hingham in the east of England to the former Arrows and Super Aguri factory at Leafield, not far from Silverstone, although they are waiting for planning permission first.
Fernandes said he would remain as team principal and the cars would continue to be painted yellow and green.
"We`ll stick with it. Caterham have a history of green and yellow as well," he said. "Look around the paddock, it`s hard to be red, it`s hard to be blue.
"Part of the agreement with Group (Lotus) was that we would remain green and yellow and they would be black and gold."