Analysis: Who wins from Lotus’ Formula One court battle?

Given the last 12 months had seen a bitterness rarely dished out in public, it was always likely the day on which Lotus' Formula One future was announced would be a prickly affair.

And so it proved. Only six minutes after Friday's scheduled 2pm release of Mr Justice Peter Smith's High Court judgment, Hethel's Group Lotus had issued a statement laying its claims to victory on the 'key issues'.

Within the hour, Hingham's Team Lotus had responded with its take on events – and followed it up late in the afternoon with a secondary statement answering Group Lotus' original claims, point by point.

Both sides proudly stuck their flag in the higher ground – but the facts of the judgment give a definitive answer on their own.

Firstly, Group Lotus' primary argument was it should have the sole right to be regarded as Lotus. It makes the famous road cars and therefore, if anyone should be called Lotus in motorsport – especially F1 – it is them.


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And on this point, Group Lotus lost.

Fernandes' team in Hingham will continue to be called Team Lotus. It will continue to have two Lotus racing cars zipping around Monaco this weekend, all the way to Silverstone, Abu Dhabi and beyond.

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It is the only point set to be appealed, which is almost an admission of defeat by Group Lotus.

It must be said, the case did not actually threaten Group Lotus' own Formula One involvement. They entered into a �100m seven-year sponsorship of the Renault F1 team, based in Oxfordshire, last year and that can continue.

But what Group Lotus now has to decide is whether it is worth it. The ex-French team is still stubbornly called Renault by the majority of fans and spectators, ignoring Lotus' name tagged on the front – just like they do with Vodafone's McLarens.

Plus, the car chassis is still a Renault. Not a Peugeot. Not a Citroen. And not a Lotus.

The only connection Renault has to Lotus is as a sponsor. And �100m is a lot of money when people are physically ignoring your name just to avoid unnecessary confusion.

Group Lotus did gain one victory, awarded damages from Fernandes' team after it broke the Lotus Racing licence it used in its debut season. The amount is yet to be decided.

But after the long battle, all the courts really achieved was setting in stone the stance both teams took at the start of the year.

As for the winners? Well, the lawyers probably did best out of it all – but Team Lotus and Tony Fernandes will be perfectly happy too.

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