Team Lotus switch back to green and yellow for 2011 in F1
Tony Fernandes has confirmed Team Lotus will not race in black and gold next season – saving much confusion for Formula One fans in the process.
However, the Malaysian businessman reiterated his Hingham-based outfit will race under the Team Lotus name next season – despite Group Lotus' tie-up with Renault and the ongoing legal dispute over using Norfolk's iconic marque.
Hethel car producer Group Lotus announced last week it join the F1 circus next season as Lotus Renault, agreeing a major title sponsorship of the Enstone-based French manufacturer – and will race with black and gold cars.
That last point was in direct competition with Fernandes' team, who had already set up a competition for fans to design their 2011 livery – which was going to be the same colour scheme, leaving the prospect of two Lotus teams and four identical cars on next season's grid.
So Team Lotus – known as Lotus Racing in their debut campaign – will now revert back to the green and yellow that helped win an army of fans in 2010. But they will not be giving up on the Team Lotus name.
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'We will push on – I have no problem that there will be two Lotuses on the grid,' said Fernandes, left. 'But I do think it would be ludicrous if we are both black and gold...we will be changing our plans for the colour scheme. We declared we were going to run in black and gold, and I'm not going to be childish and say we were first with our plans so we will do it whatever – they have painted their car black and gold, they have made their intentions clear on that front, so be it. But every cloud has a silver lining. And after the announcement by the FIA about the new engine plans for 2013, which means F1 is going green – what better colour to be?
'We have been testing our fans' reactions and many have come back to us to say we should stay green and yellow. So I'm 99pc sure that we will.'
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Team Lotus still plan to create a black and gold show car for the winner of their original competition, as well as running a new competition to design their green and yellow livery for 2011.
The choice of two completely separate teams sporting Norfolk's favourite racing marque could leave Lotus fans with a choice to make, as far as who to support goes.
'I think it is a situation like Manchester United versus Manchester City – you have to take your pick!' Fernandes told Autosport.com
'If you are from Manchester you have to choose which team you want to support. In F1 you can support the black and gold Lotus, or the green and yellow Lotus. It is really up to you.
'We are not going to be faster than them at the beginning of the season, that is the reality. But let's see where we get to at the end of the season. We have a very, very fired up Mike Gascoyne – who was told by me that Dany Bahar's (Group Lotus chief executive) main reason for not being with us was he felt Mike was not good enough. So that helped me tremendously in motivating people. We have to be real, though. They have 30 years' more experience than us, lots more money and bigger facilities that we don't have. But in two years' time let's see.
'As I always say, things take time and have to be done properly. You cannot parachute yourself into a brand. People are not stupid any more, and I think the reason for all our support is the people see we are trying to do something the right way.
'I am not Colin Chapman, and I never will be. He is a legend and we are not going to emulate him – but everything he did is what we are doing. He built it from scratch and did not buy into anything.'
Fernandes denied there was truth in rumours he was being put under pressure to give up on his Team Lotus ambitions by Renault – his team's engine supplier – and FIA chief Bernie Ecclestone.
And while being best of the new boys was the clear – and only realistic – target this year, 2011 now offers Fernandes' team a big juicy carrot to aim for: 'This year we beat Virgin Racing, so now let's try and catch up with Renault; we are not going to be able to do that straight away, but where there is a will there is a way,' added Fernandes.
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