New twist in dispute as Tony’s Lotus team goes green
Hingham's Formula One team have signalled their intent to make Team Lotus their permanent name – with new signs at their factory.
Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes' F1 outfit are currently involved in a bitter legal dispute with Hethel car manufacturer Group Lotus over who can use the iconic Norfolk marque on motorsport's grandest stage.
But the Hingham team, who are confident they will win their court battle expected to take place next autumn, have unveiled new green signs displaying the Team Lotus logo – which is almost identical to that used by Group Lotus.
The team plans to finish painting the rest of their Hingham factory, have unveiled a new website – www.teamlotus.co.uk – and are planning for more changes to their Facebook and Twitter pages, which had proved popular during their debut season.
After some abrasive recent exchanges, Fernandes is now refusing to mention the squabble with Group Lotus on his Twitter account – instead, he appears happy to ensure his team is fully rebranded over the F1 close season and ahead of the battles to come, both on and off the track.
Having begun life as 1 Malaysia and subsequently agreeing a licence for the name Lotus Racing for their first season in Formula One, Fernandes bought the rights to Colin Chapman's original racing arm from former principal David Hunt in September.
That move was also given the green light by the FIA in its 2011 entry list.
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However, Group Lotus have their own F1 ambitions and recently announced plans to be title sponsor to Renault's Enstone-based team.
Team Lotus, who will retain the green and yellow colours for 2011, had planned to revert to black and gold with a competition to design their new livery.
In fact, next season will see the new Renault and Group Lotus team run in the evocative John Player Special colours.
However, the Hingham team are still expected to announce a winner of their competition in the coming days, and will dress a show car in the design.