Lotus to return to F1 grid

UPDATE #4 This rumor, first broke by AutoRacing1.com on August 20th, is now 'fact' with today's news that Lotus will return to F1 in 2010.

09/04/09 (GMM) Peter Sauber, the founder and 20 per cent owner of the Hinwil based formula one team, has this week been in Malaysia.

"In his luggage could be good news for the future," the Swiss newspaper Blick said.

We reported on Thursday that the Malaysian government, already involved with BMW-Sauber through its 35m euro per year sponsorship by the state owned oil company Petronas, might be interested in forming a national formula one team.

Through the involvement of a Malaysian consortium, it was suggested that the bid could involve either taking over Sauber in the wake of BMW's impending withdrawal, or joining forces with Lotus, Litespeed and Mike Gascoyne in a separate start-up operation.

The new speculation is a combination of the two possibilities: a BMW-Sauber takeover with the involvement of the F3 team Litespeed, as well as the well-known F1 engineer Gascoyne and Lotus' new CEO Dany Bahar.

Coinciding with the rumors was the confirmation that Bahar, who like Peter Sauber is Swiss, has left Ferrari and will start his new role as Lotus CEO in October.

"I am looking forward to taking on the challenges as CEO of this legendary and iconic company with a peerless motor sport history," said Bahar in a statement.

"I can't wait to get my plans underway in October."

Lotus is owned by Proton, Malaysia's national car company, and Lotus' current chairman is Malaysian Dato Nadzmi Mohd Salleh.

"With Dany's track record in motor sports and Ferrari, we strongly believe that we have found the right CEO to enhance the Lotus image, brand and reputation as a world class sportscar and engineering company," he said.

09/03/09 (GMM) According to reports in the domestic press, the Malaysian government is interested in forming a national formula one team.

The state owned oil company Petronas is already a sponsor of BMW-Sauber, who following the announcement of BMW's withdrawal from F1 is currently looking for a buyer.

"Nothing has been finalized and there's nothing to comment. I'm not confirming, neither am I saying otherwise," Malaysia sports minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek told the Malay Mail.

It is reported that a consortium of Malaysians with the backing of the government has made a bid to own a team, and an announcement by the prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak could be pending.

The sports minister added: "Then let's wait for the PM to make the announcement. Who knows what will happen after the Singapore GP."

It is also rumored that the Malaysia consortium might see its route into F1 not via BMW-Sauber but with a start-up operation, with Dany Bahar and Mike Gascoyne mentioned as possibly involved in the project.

Bahar was the head of Ferrari's Global Brand Department, but is reported to have left the Maranello outfit to run Lotus. Lotus was involved with Litespeed's bid for a 2010 team entry, as was Gascoyne.

The Malaysian government is already involved in F1 also through the Sepang circuit near Kuala Lumpur.

08/20/09 According to AutoRacing1.com sources, don't be surprised if the Lotus/Litespeed team makes a late run at one of the two F1 positions.

08/20/09 The word on the street in Formula 1 circles is that the FIA will shortly announce two teams to be added to the 2010 entry list. It is not yet clear who these will be but it could be that an entity created by the former BMW Sauber will be one of them. There has been speculation that Prodrive will be one of them and that the Spanish operation Epsilon Euskadi could be another. From what we hear, the Swiss team is the one struggling for cash as BMW wants more money than is available and there is also the problem of whether or not the team would be allowed to sign the Concorde Agreement, as the deadline for doing so was missed. Both Prodrive and Epsilon are believed to have access to the money needed to run a team but this is dependent on being granted entries, so they are both stuck in a chicken and egg situation with the FIA wanting suitable guarantees and potential sponsors wanting the security of knowing that they are buying into a franchise. Grandprix.com

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