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GP Week : Issue 121
SPEAKING to a select group of journalists in London this week, Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar confirmed that he was not seeking to change the relationship with Renault or partners Genii Capital. “ We enjoy a very good relationship with our partners Genii, we are very much involved in their business, we are happy with how it’s run and as things are run properly and [are] well managed there is no reason for us to do any move,” Bahar said. “ We are absolutely fine as it is,” he continued. “If we decide to go for the long- term [ownership] then a renaming would be an issue. But at the moment it’s out of the question and it’s not something we are pursuing. Out of the question until 2013.” Under the terms of the Concorde Agreement, for Group Lotus or Genii Capital to change the chassis name of the Renault F1 car would take unanimous consent from all teams. Given the ongoing legal wrangling between Group Lotus and Team Lotus, it is unlikely that such consent would be given. To change the chassis name without that consent, the team owners would have to rescind their claim to Renault F1’s historic results, a move that would cost them millions of dollars a year in championship earnings. Group Lotus announced title sponsorship of the Renault F1 team during the 2010 Formula One season. The existing deal is set to run until the end of the 2017 season, but it is widely believed that Group Lotus and Genii Capital will be co- owners of the team long before the title sponsorship deal expires. “ The partnership is running very well and I hope it continues to be like that,” Bahar added. “It’s about the branding of Lotus, about technology transfer.” WHEN it was announced that Pedro de la Rosa would be standing in for Sauber driver Sergio Perez at the Canadian Grand Prix, the team was criticised for failing to take the opportunity to give official reserve driver Esteban Gutierrez his F1 debut. “I understand this question, but if these people think a little bit it is absolutely clear,” team principal Peter Sauber told Autosport. “ We are responsible for [Gutierrez], and have had a contract with him for a couple of years. It is very important to bring him slowly into F1. It would be completely wrong to put him in the car if there was the possibility it makes absolutely no sense. It is important that he can concentrate on GP2, which is not easy, and to make progress there.” While there is a strong argument for not promoting drivers to Formula One before they are ready – Romain Grosjean is a sterling example of this – Peter Sauber has a long history of taking a punt on talented rookies. Previous good bets include 2007 Formula One World Champion Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa, Rober t Kubica, and 2010 Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel’s Sauber debut came at the 2007 United States Grand Prix, held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The young German scored one point for BMW Sauber on his F1 debut; he had been drafted in to replace the injured Kubica. As reported last week, de la Rosa was given only a few minutes’ notice of his understudy role for Sauber; the Spanish driver had a full-time race drive with the team for much of the 2010 season, but was replaced by Nick Heidfeld at the Singapore Grand Prix in September. Sauber defends de la Rosa choice in Montreal Group Lotus: No Renault name change till 2013 10