I know Lotus, and you, sir, are no Lotus

Right, then. You could all probably imagine I was going to comment on this at some point. So. Here is a picture of a potential 2011 livery (although, as I’ll explain, I don’t believe it’s actually going to run next year) for the Team Formerly Known As Renault:

First off, let’s talk about the livery itself. Well, for the most part, it’s quite smart – we all know just how good black and gold look as an F1 livery, and with the new Pirelli tyres in particular, it looks immediately classic. It’s ruined, of course, by the red wing endplates – and including the Union Flag on the sidepod purely in an attempt to reference the JPS livery even further is tacky and pointless in the extreme. Nevertheless, it’s got a lot of people on the internet very excited, and it is rather pretty.

But. It’s not a Lotus. What it is is an appallingly childish and petty piece of work. The team that are running this car are not Lotus, will never be Lotus, and have absolutely no right to evoke the history of that livery. For those unfamiliar with the whole tangled mess, I suggest reading this interview with David Hunt on Joe Saward’s excellent F1 blog, but the long and short of it is this – Team Lotus and Group Lotus (aka Lotus Cars) are, and always have been (at least since 1954), different things. Team Lotus ran an F1 team until 1994 (although just to add further confusion, for a brief time the Lotus Cars name and logo appeared on the Team Lotus F1 car due to a sponsorship deal), and the rights to race in F1 in that name have been held by David Hunt ever since. Group Lotus make cars, and are now owned by Proton, and leased the “Lotus” name to Tony Fernandes’ F1 team for 2010 – an act they got away with because there wasn’t another team in the sport licensing the Team Lotus name.

For 2011, Proton are trying to pull the same trick – having bought the Renault team, they’re now sponsoring it and thus referring to it as a “Lotus Renault” (it’s worth noting that the constructor name, as far as the entry list goes, is still officially Renault – the “Lotus” part is equivalent to the “Vodafone” in McLaren’s name, and this is how I suspect they’ll attempt to defend their actions should the FIA try to crack down on the whole fiasco). But now they’ve come up with this livery – a livery that harkens back to a team that this company had nothing to do with (besides sharing a name) – and, furthermore, a colour scheme that Fernandes’ Team Lotus (a name that they’ve now officially licensed from David Hunt, essentially becoming the inheritors of the old team’s history in the process) had already announced that they were going to run in.

It stinks, frankly. Proton/Group Lotus are trying to convince the public that they are the “real” Lotus team, and are using this colour scheme to try and back that up. But it’s stolen – it doesn’t belong to them. A smart car it may be, but it is not a Lotus – and like most Renault liveries over the past decade, it ends up looking like some weird half-breed of two things.

What’s particularly baffling is why the Renault team have agreed to go along with all of this – they’d spent 2010 carefully (and largely successfully) rebuilding their reputation thanks to the brilliant hiring of Robert Kubica and a concerted effort to disassociate themselves with the Briatore era. So why would they risk yet another PR disaster that’s just going to make the rest of motorsport annoyed with them? Anyone who knows their stuff knows that they’re essentially hijacking the legacy of the great Colin Chapman in order to score points off a team that managed to make themselves the most well-liked and well-respected of 2010’s rookie teams (although all three, even Hispania, gave pretty strong accounts of themselves, and confounded the doubters by going on to finish the season and make firm plans for 2011).

And for a livery fan, it’s particularly annoying – Renault had arguably the second-best livery on the grid last year, and now they’re ditching that brilliant piece of image reinvention for the sake of this cheap points-scoring. If we really do have four cars in near-identical liveries next year (and both called “Lotus Renault”, to boot), it’s just ridiculous – and I can only hope the FIA step in to do something about it (otherwise it sets a dangerous precedent – I wonder what would stop a team being “sponsored” by a newly-started company that happens to be called “Ferrari” or “McLaren”). Indeed, I suspect what’s probably going to happen is that Proton will eventually be forced to back down, and the team will run as “Proton Renault” (and hey, if they want a classic Lotus-style car, they could do a lot worse than running in Proton’s colours of yellow and blue). Then again, if they don’t, perhaps it will cause the Real Lotus to rethink their strategy of moving away from the wonderful 2010 livery. Every cloud…

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13 Responses to I know Lotus, and you, sir, are no Lotus

  1. Kenny says:

    If the black and gold livery “belongs” to anyone, it belongs to Imperial Tobacco, makers of John Player Special cigarettes. Lotus livery is BRG and yellow.

    To say that Lotus Cars and Team Lotus have had nothing to do with each other since 1954 is stretching things a bit. They had a common owner/boss, and in the 1970s Lotus Cars’ print ads were all about Team Lotus’ championships. Lotus Cars produced “special” editions of their models painted in BRG and yellow, red and white (Gold Leaf), and black and gold. So, it seems there was a close connection until 1982.

    As to the present situation- Renault don’t think that they can afford to be in F1 as more than an engine supplier and Lotus have afforded them the opportunity to do that. Lotus Cars are now making noises like they accept 1Malaysia’s claim to the Team Lotus name…if this is the case, all they have to do is sit down and decide who will run in what colors. In the 50s and 60s half the grid was BRG and the other half was red (or so it seemed), so teams running similar liveries is nothing new. Not black and gold, though. As attractive as it may be, it really has nothing to do with anything today.

  2. OllieJ says:

    Quite right sir! Also I am disgusted by today’s Autosport sporting the cover caption ‘The REAL Lotus is back’. I will have to have a flick through to see if it’s just sensationalist attention grabbing, or if Mark Hughes and co really have forgotten their F1 history.

  3. Seb Patrick says:

    Amusingly, Bahar has apparently said “We have never claimed to be Team Lotus. We never want to be Team Lotus. That was a successful era of the company but it is an era which we should leave it in the past.”

    Right. So that would explain why your press release said “We are Lotus, and we are back!” and why you PAINTED YOUR CAR TO LOOK LIKE A TEAM LOTUS CAR.

    Dicks.

  4. Aly says:

    The whole, 2will the real lotus please stand up” thing is just silly, why Group Louts just don’t buy Team Lotus and get on with it I will never know.

    As far as the livery goes, after team Louts announced the whole Black and Gold thing why they didn’t pick another scheme just seems daft, partuclularly with Total’s insistance for the past couple of seasons that they maust have white on red logos, hint hint, why is the new Lotus Renault not in Gold Leaf coulours? Problem solved and everyone can move on, kind of lol

  5. CHRISK5 says:

    Get a grip you lot.
    The planning that has gone into the rebranding is way beyond your comprehension – stay ignorant if you wish.

    The LotusRenault 2011 livery looks immaculate and having also seen pictures of the potential TeamLotus livery – equally as beautiful.

    Why be so primitive and back one or the other ?

    Both entities are essentially the same and at least the soapopera element is more entertaining than anything you get out of Ferrari,McLaren,Mercedes etc not to mention their liveries being virtually unchanged each season.

    4 Black and Gold cars,2 (Team)LotusRenault brands,
    F1 gets tons of publicity (good or bad it’s all the same to most people)

    Bring it on.

    • Aly says:

      Fsir point chrisk5, it will make the grid a better place rather than the usual copy cat red, blue or white liveries that tend to appear each season

      My standing on my last comment was that, and its a personal opinion, each team should have a unique identity thsat can be seen acorss the cras, trucks, merchandise, team wear etc. We wait for years for the much promised returtn of Lotus and then two come along at once lol. It just seams daft but yeah I’m sure both teams have put a ton of work into it, also it makes another “British” team to support doesnt’t it?

      • Kenny says:

        Fair point? Aly, perhaps you don’t mind being called ignorant and primitive, but I certainly do.

        I thought that I had found that rarest of things- a civil forum on the internet- here. Alas, my search continues…

        Cheers.

  6. Dahie says:

    I just call all teams Lotus…
    Lotus Ferrari
    Lotus McLaren
    Lotus Mercedes
    Lotus Redbull

  7. OllieJ says:

    I think the reason people are so annoyed at Group Lotus’ actions isn’t because they mind having 4 Lotuses on the grid, it’s because we can all see what’s going to end up happening. Team Lotus, who have grafted away and earned the fans’ respect over the last year, will be bullied by Behar/Bernie/the Malaysian government into giving up their name, and maybe even close down because of it. Then ‘Lotus Renault’ will be left, sullying not only the memory of the original Lotus but also the efforts of the ’02-’10 Renault team.

  8. [fliP] says:

    So we have 4 “Silver Arrows” on the grid. And 4 Red Bulls. And 4 Lotus Renaults. Maybe Williams extends its partnership with HRT to the livery. And maybe Sauber gets some more expertise from Ferrari – and more red on the car. And then there could be something between Force India and Virgin. And suddenly we have 6 teams instead of 12.

  9. Aly says:

    http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/88663
    Team Lotus to remain Green and Yellow, Tony Fernandes says it would be “ludicrous” for them to run in black and gold.

    Kenny, you would appear to have got your wish and Team Lotus are staying exactly how they are.

  10. Ed says:

    Its a pity that Renault’s yellow/black livery is gone now; that was fantastic, probably my favourite livery for the last 5 years at least.

    At least Team Lotus is going back to the green/yello livery, so we haven’t lost both the best 2010 liveries.

  11. bosyber says:

    About the livery itself: that photoshop does look okay (seen a job with endplates made black), although it looks bulky and needlessly bling-bling from the front (the nose with that big logo etc.); but unfortunately the photos of the 2010 car in the livery look a lot worse – the gold is thicker and seems sloppier, and shaped differently, and not in a good way.

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