Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli: We deserve Team Lotus name

Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli feel their Hingham outfit deserves to carry the Lotus name in Formula One next season – even though Group Lotus is aiming to steal their thunder.

The race-winning drivers took Team Lotus, known as Lotus Racing in 2010, to 10th place in the constructors' championship in the Norfolk team's debut season – a big financial boost in terms of funding handed out by the sport.

But a court battle is set for next year between Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes and Hethel-based car producer Group Lotus over who can use the Lotus marque in Formula One.

That battle turned even uglier this week, following Group Lotus' decision to sponsor the Renault F1 team – and rename it Lotus Renault from 2011.

However, Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is believed to be behind Fernandes' efforts to resurrect the Team Lotus name, one that disappeared from the sport in 1994.

That theory was seemingly backed by the FIA's 2011 entry list, in which Kovalainen and Trulli were confirmed as drivers for 'Team Lotus'.

And speaking after that announcement, both drivers admitted the importance of Hingham retaining its name through 2011's season and pending court battle.

Most Read

'It's good I think, if the team stays as it is, as Lotus, because for most of our supporters – we've been travelling around the world and showing people that we were Team Lotus – it would be a shame and not really correct to show people from one day to another that the team has changed name,' said the veteran Italian driver.

'This name belongs to this team, not only because it has the rights to have this name, but because they've proved they can have this name and everyone, every supporter around the world, they seem to like us as Team Lotus.

'It's nice we are still like this; it's important for us drivers as it is much better being a Lotus driver than another team.

'But at the end of the day, it doesn't change much for us, because if you change the name the people stay the same.'

Team Lotus was kept separate from Group Lotus by founder and legendary race engineer Colin Chapman – a principal being fought over in court.

Team Lotus was shut down in 1994 by then-owner David Hunt due to its ongoing financial troubles, but in September Fernandes bought the name rights from Hunt in a bid to resurrect the team.

However, Group Lotus believes those rights are worthless.

Finland's former McLaren driver Kovalainen is backing one of F1's newest teams to continue doing the name justice – so long as it is given the chance by Ecclestone.

'The original Team Lotus has got a great history and, of course, we can't take any credit for that,' said Kovalainen.

'I like the Chapman family, I like Clive and Hazel, and I think I would have liked Colin as well if he was around. And the people in our team are real racing people. Even in a small team they want to be ambitious and do better than the other smaller teams.

'I think we've proven this year we can be Team Lotus, we can carry the name and move forward. Of course it would e a shame if we lost our name, but for me as a driver I'm not going to be making that decision – so I'll leave it to Tony and the rest of the guys.'

By coincidence, both Kovalainen and Trulli have driven for Renault in the past.