Tony Fernandes hits back over Lopez’ Lotus F1 comments

Hingham-based Team Lotus put their T128 on the track for the first time on Wednesday – with team principal Tony Fernandes left to hit back at Lotus Renault owner Gerard Lopez.

The well publicised falling out and ongoing legal dispute over who can use the Lotus name in Formula One is set to be resolved in the High Court towards the end of March.

Lopez had claimed Fernandes should admit the whole scenario was about money – however, Fernandes said yesterday: 'I considered doing a deal, but the one they (Hethel-based Group Lotus) offered me would have bankrupted us.

'I decided my (�80m) investment and 250 jobs were in jeopardy, so we bought the (Team Lotus) name…I would much rather we remained as Lotus Racing, but…my licence was terminated.

'In all my years of being in that business it never got to the 'I said this, you said this'. It's petty.

'I think we should all grow up and let the courts decide, and at the end of the day we honour the courts.

'I said I didn't want to say anything any more, but they (Lotus Renault) keep making statements. I can't just say silent.

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'I'm now happy not to say anything until the court case because we just want to go racing.'

Team Lotus took to the track for the first time on day two of the opening 2011 test in Valencia but Heikki Kovalainen's running ended after 15 laps following a power steering problem.

Lotus Renault had a better time, completing their second day with Robert Kubica fifth quickest and completing more than 100 laps.

And although Fernandes was delighted to see the new Team Lotus car on track for the first time, he admitted some of the pre-season talk – including being in the hunt for points early on in the campaign – could be a case of 'aiming too high', given the team was unable to secure a single point in its first Formula One campaign in 2010.

'The best thing was (driver) Heikki Kovalainen's first comment when he said 'different car, different feeling, well done everyone',' said Fernandes.

'That really feels good because we were very nervous given we're rebuilding a whole new car, taking on other team's parts.

'The people who made those comments (during the winter) shocked me because they are generally not people who make comments like that, so there's fire in Hingham,' he added.

'It shows there's a passion and determination to succeed, and that people are putting their necks on the line.

'Yes, we could be aiming too high, but the fact people are thinking like that changes the mindset of the team, so that's what I'm happy about.'

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