Michael Bailey: To cheer Lotus or Caterham – you decide

It has been a long and confusing 18 months for anyone wanting to invest time in supporting a Lotus in Formula One – and hopefully that is now all over. All that is left is the repositioning.

Quite simply, having two teams claiming to be Lotus was like Spartacus – and it left those watching either annoyed or looking elsewhere.

So perhaps the best part of last week's resolution to the whole affair, which came along at Thursday's F1 Commission meeting in Geneva, is that in 2012 there will only be one Norfolk marque on the grid.

If you want to back this region's legendary constructor and its Hethel links, head for Lotus Renault GP and their Lotus chassis with black and gold – I assume – livery.

I have sympathy for Tony Fernandes and Mike Gascoyne. Their plan was to bring Lotus – a marque you can tell Gascoyne fully respects to the letter when talking to him – back to the grid and they have done just that, in a way that did it justice.


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They had the backing of Group Lotus at the time – and like the rest of us, don't have the use of hindsight.

As soon as Group Lotus embarked on their own plans for an F1 empire, the two became locked in a battle that had to have a winner eventually, for the sake of Lotus' heritage. What Fernandes managed to do so well was preserve and adapt his plan.

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His purchase of the Caterham sports car manufacturer earlier this year made sense the moment the story broke – the Malaysian had a plan B that looked every bit plan A as more and more money flowed the way of the lawyers and flawed trials.

So the world's Lotus fans now have a clear team to support. While Team Lotus was a separate entity by the time David Hunt picked up the pieces, it originated from the wonder of Colin Chapman – DNA the racing unit shares with Group Lotus, and that should allow the two to maintain some sort of link into F1.

Of course, bringing Group and Team Lotus together was Fernandes' original plan too.

Now that plan is under the control of Dany Bahar, Proton and possibly Renault's old owners Genii Capital. It is their responsibility to look after it and make sure Lotus blossoms.

But there's no need to leave Caterham well alone. The car company was also born out of Lotus and Chapman DNA through the Lotus Seven, while the team is going to have just as much of a Norfolk base at Hingham as Lotus Renault will have at Hethel. Caterham's first F1 car looks set to be designed in Hingham, built and developed in Oxfordshire.

Maybe the loss of the Lotus mark makes a sole Norfolk home less important? After all, Formula One is global. Moving 150 miles west will barely register to anyone not directly affected.

And maybe, rather than bitter squabbling and court cases, the future battle between the county's two teams can be something we all enjoy – rather than just getting confused and frustrated.

• Aside from all the naming rows and resolutions, last week's F1 Commission meeting also ratified the 2012 calendar – so make those travel plans, people.

Barring any more political unrest and the like, next year we will get our 20-race season – the longest in the sport's history, beginning a week earlier than the false start were treated to in 2011. In all honesty, it's pretty much as we were this season with a few changes:

• Starting in Melbourne on March 18, Bahrain will be round four on April 22, seven days after China;

• That replaces Turkey, which will be on standby should Sakhir have similar problems to last year;

• Austin will greet the US Grand Prix on November 18, with the season's climax in Brazil seven days later.

There are big plans for Formula One Stateside – although when has that not been the case?

A new street circuit race has been announced for New Jersey in 2013, which will be designed to have the New York skyline as its backdrop – a long time goal of Bernie Ecclestone.

But there seem to remain issues over plans for the US race 12 months before that, at the new Circuit of the Americas in Texas.

As with most new tracks preparing for their first grand prix, plenty of people are willing to bet on problems with Austin getting ready in time – Korea, India and China have all had such treatment in recent years.

Ecclestone has revealed to the teams his own concerns over the Austin schedule and some believe work at the circuit is running well behind.

However, F1 circuit designer Hermann Tilke is not one of them – and the German is also excited by the possibilities of using New Jersey's roads in 2013. Best deal with one at a time, Hermann.

• Another Formula One meeting, another attempt by Ferrari to throw their weight around.

In case you are not aware, Maranello's prominent role in F1 history means that unlike sports such as football, cricket and the like, Ferrari genuinely do have more of a say in how the sport in run than their rivals – they own a larger stake of the pie.

So if Ferrari aren't happy, they make noises and – usually – have to be appeased. After all, what is F1 without those red cars?

The latest issue – although we have been here before – comes under F1's proposed budget controls; something Ferrari are struggling to accept.

Once again, it has been suggested Ferrari could quit the sport and breakaway to form their own series if teams' budgets are squeezed too much. And once again Ferrari have suggested there is no ultimatum – only constructive comment.

But the truth is those cost-cutting plans for 2010 still haven't arrived – what price they never will?

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