Hunt, brother of former world champion James Hunt, tried to salvage a financially-stricken Team Lotus in 1994. Hunt ultimately failed, but kept hold of the rights to one of the sport’s best-loved names in the hope someone would resurrect the team in F1 – something set to take place through Tony Fernandes’ Hingham outfit in 2011.
And Hunt believes Group Lotus are completely wrong in their efforts to claim the marque in F1 by sponsoring Renault’s outfit from next season. (See related AR1.com article)
“I think it’s silly, whatever angle you look at it," he said. “Talk about confusing the public. Group Lotus and (their owners) Proton know the truth of the history and of their legal position in respect of the Lotus brand in F1. Even (Group Lotus chief executive) Dany Bahar knows.
“I know some liken it to the situation with Red Bull, where they also own Toro Rosso, but politically and commercially it’s all controlled by one entity.
“Whereas with the two Lotuses, there would be one team with all the rights, and one which has none. So apart from the punch up it would cause in the courts, they are not going to be singing from the same hymn sheet. They are going to be at each other’s throats all the time."
Hunt claims Bahar was told first hand of Team Lotus’ exclusive rights to use the name in F1 during his time at Red Bull – who were then looking to buy into a F1 team. In the end they took over Jaguar – a constructor with less gravitas – and turned the team into world champions. But Hunt feels those discussions showed Bahar he owned the rights to Team Lotus – a fact Group Lotus strenuously denies.
A website – www.saveteamlotus.com – has been set up to garner support for Hunt’s cause, which is to ensure Fernandes’ team gets to operate as Team Lotus unchallenged.
“Even if Proton and Group Lotus were to succeed with their extraordinary agenda, they would actually score an own goal because, judging by what the fans say, the damage they would do to their brand is pretty plain," added Hunt, who believes Wednesday’s move raises some pertinent questions.
“Have the sponsors on Renault’s car all been warned what they are in for and the damage that might occur to their brand through association of what is effectively a declaration of war by Proton?" added Hunt.
“And given Renault still have a suspended sentence tied to them after bringing the sport into disrepute in 2008, are they doing so again by deliberately and willfully confusing the public over the Lotus brand?" Eastern Daily Press
12/08/10 (GMM) 'Team Lotus' on Wednesday indicated it is in no mood to give in despite Group Lotus entering formula one for 2011.
F1 is now facing the bizarre situation of one team – Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus – being known as Lotus-Renault, while the Renault F1 team is officially Lotus Renault GP.
Both intend to field Lotus' black and gold cars inspired by the Lotuses raced by the likes of Ayrton Senna in the 80s.
Prior to Wednesday's announcement, the situation looked destined for a bitter legal row, but even amid the pressure imposed by Group Lotus', the group led by Fernandes sounded as resolute as ever.
"(Group Lotus CEO) Dany Bahar has done us a favor," team boss Fernandes wrote on Twitter. "Never felt better about our future and Team Lotus. Looks like they (are) trying to hijack our black and gold idea."
He re-published a 'tweet' from a fan: "Stick with the green and gold, save some cash to spend on the car!"
Fernandes was 'tweeting' from Bangkok.
"Funny, first meeting I had was in the Lotus room. Wonder if Dany is going to try and sponsor that," he typed.
The team's technical boss Mike Gascoyne was also tweeting on Wednesday: "Lotus, just like buses, you wait for ages and then 2 come along at once.
"Rest assured, we are Team Lotus and we are here to stay."
Chief executive Riad Asmat confirmed: "To clarify, since I've been receiving numerous calls from the media over here; we are 'Team Lotus'."