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DATE News (chronologically)
01/14/11
f1
No split loyalties for Chapman
Clive Chapman is adamant there will be no split loyalties when it comes to the Lotus name on the Formula One grid this season.

Confusion has reigned since early last month when Group Lotus, the manufacturer operating under the umbrella of Malaysian state-owned car giant Proton, announced a seven-year title sponsorship agreement with Renault.

Then there is Team Lotus, the marque that last season were known as Lotus Racing, who previously had the support of Proton.

Chapman, son of Lotus founder Colin, remains friends with Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes, but as far as he is concerned, his support is now firmly behind Lotus Renault.

"We've always been loyal to Hethel," Chapman told Press Association Sport, referring to the home of the Group Lotus factory.

"There are a lot of people working there who used to work with my father.

"Now new guys have arrived and injected this extraordinary amount of enthusiasm, energy and excitement because maybe Lotus had gone a bit dormant in some ways.

"Proton has stumped up the most incredible investment to support the company, so we're so delighted that's happened.

"Everything I've ever done with Classic Team Lotus (in his role as managing director) is to support Group Lotus.

"We've been working together for years and years, but it hasn't really had much profile. It has been fairly low - until now."

The name of Lotus only returned to F1 under license from Group Lotus, with the full backing of parent company Proton.

Proton, however, withdrew the license - and with it their support - for Fernandes' team, instead pursuing a new route into F1 via the sponsorship deal with Renault.

"We got on very well with Tony Fernandes and everyone at Hingham. They did a great job," added Chapman, speaking at the Autosport International Show at Birmingham's NEC.

"Then for reasons I don't understand the license to use the Lotus name was terminated, and that was that.

"So we're just carrying on as we always have done, which is to support whatever Hethel is doing.

"I don't really fully understand Tony's circumstances. He is a very nice guy, and we do admire what they have achieved at Hingham, but once the license stopped...

"I'm an engineer and a bit of a black and white merchant, so it was quite simple from my point of view and that of my family, and we will be cheering on the Lotus Renault."

Chapman is convinced his actions would have the full backing of his legendary father if he were alive today.

"My father was extremely pragmatic and he would always make best use of resources and try and find the most efficient way of doing something," said Chapman.

"I'm sure if he was broaching the subject of getting back into F1, then this kind of approach would make complete sense to him, to hook up with an established team and gradually form a partnership.

"So the fact it has a Renault badge on the car doesn't give me a problem at all.

"I must admit my mum (Colin's widow Hazel) doesn't quite get it. She can see it's called a Renault, but I've told her that's not really the issue.

"The issue is that Lotus the car company is getting back into F1, and she fully supports whatever is happening at Hethel."

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