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GP Week : Issue 148
The recent history of the Lotus name in Formula One involves a lot of name changes, legal battles, and lawyers’ fees. And it just got a little more complicated. It was reported in Autosport last week that the Lotus F1 team have terminated their title sponsorship deal with Group Lotus. But this is not a parting of ways, and in fact Group Lotus have negotiated a deal which should be seen as quite a coup. Rather than paying for title sponsorship, it has been agreed Group Lotus will continue to have their branding on the cars, and all the other benefits, gratis. It brings their F1 deal inline with Lotus’ many other motorsports projects where teams paint their cars black and gold and benefit from association with the Lotus brand, while the car company also benefits from global exposure. The team name will remain unchanged. Obviously Genii and Lotus/Proton came to an agreement behind closed doors, and one assumes there’s benefit to Gerard Lopez’ company as well. For Group Lotus, it was necessary to wiggle out of their financial commitment due to the uncertainty that’s been brought on by the sale of 48 percent of parent company Proton to Malaysian conglomerate DRB-Hicom, a move that was outside Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar’s scope of influence. Until the new owners decide on their strategy going for ward, Group Lotus’ hands are rather tied. The new agreement with Lopez gives them room to breathe. It’s GPWEEK’s understanding that the cancellation of the sponsorship contract was agreed at the beginning of the year. “Group Lotus and the Lotus F1 Team are brand partners,” the car company clarified in a statement released Friday. “The F1 team uses the strength of the Lotus name to promote themselves, and in return Group Lotus benefits from F1 exposure and the ambassadorship of its drivers. There is no longer a financial arrangement between Group Lotus and the Lotus F1 Team, but continued teamwork, brand alignment, and shared goals. The team name 'Lotus', and indeed the chassis name, will continue unchanged.” “We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1,” said F1 team chairman Lopez. “We funded the team last year and the year before for whatever delta was missing. We would prefer to have sponsors up to the full amount – but if we have to fund it then we will fund it. “When we changed the name from Lotus Renault to Lotus [for this year], it opened up the door for a title sponsor. So if you take into account the fact we signed Unilever, probably the biggest sponsorship agreement this year in F1, and we signed Microsoft, which is huge news as it is a brand that has never been in F1 before, we have a wide space for sponsorship. “If we sign a title sponsor now, we will end up with a better cash flow situation than this team ever had before.” LOTUS STILL THE TITLE, EVEN IF IT’S NOT THE TITLE SPONSOR 3 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS