Lopez wants Fernandes to ‘be honest’ over Lotus battle

Lotus Renault F1 team owner Gerard Lopez believes his opposite number at Hingham's Team Lotus, Tony Fernandes, should 'be honest' and admit the fight over the Norfolk marque is all about money.

Both teams unveiled their 2011 cars yesterday and with a High Court trial set for March 21 over who will be given the green light to race as a Lotus, the bitter row was bound to resurface – especially given the fact Team Lotus opted for an online launch of the Lotus T128, pipping the unveiling of the Renault R31 in Valencia ahead of the opening test at Ricardo Tormo by a few hours. Team Lotus – who raced as Lotus Racing last season – bought the rights from David Hunt in September to use the famous name left from Colin Chapman's original racing outfit, while Hethel-based car producer Group Lotus will sponsor the ex-Renault team from this season.

Lopez said: 'You've got to call a spade a spade, and I can tell when somebody is trying to twist things. It's a shame because we've never twisted things in any form or fashion. We've just said we have a partnership with Lotus.

'They have decided to be quite aggressive… they want to promote their brand, and there is only one Lotus car company. Anything else is a bunch of BS. I know money is essentially the centrepiece of this. It's an issue for them, and it's probably one I wouldn't take too kindly to if I was in their shoes. I would be fighting. But just admit to the reality, that it's about money. It's nothing else.'

Despite trying to portray Group Lotus' involvement as a return of the Norfolk marque to F1, number one driver Robert Kubica did not seem too fussed.

Asked whether it was a dream to drive for 'Lotus', he said: 'Well, they're a sponsor, a partner. I could say that it was my dream to drive for Total (another team sponsor). If Lotus owned the team then it would be a bit different.'

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