Group Lotus plc and Genii Capital has announced a partnership that will see the Renault F1 Team renamed 'Lotus Renault GP' from the start of the 2011 racing season.
The illustration of the new car even has the iconic black and gold paint scheme long-associated with the famous JPS-liveried Lotus F1 cars of the '70s.
The association heralds the return of a successful F1 collaboration between Lotus and Renault from the 1980s. The Lotus heritage coupled with Renault's F1 technology will set the team on a path to future success, it is hoped.
Having bought the remaining shares in the Renault F1 team, Genii Capital will now sell some of those shares to Lotus plc, giving them a major equity stake in the team. The transaction is said to represent a partnership between Group Lotus and Genii Capital, which signifies the beginning of a more comprehensive strategic alliance between the two organizations.
The partnership between Lotus and Genii brings the ability to incorporate new technologies from F1 cars into Lotus road cars including hybrid technology, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), aero advancements and lightweight materials.
Genii, an investment holding company with a portfolio of automotive technologies, bring non-F1 technologies such as lightweight braking systems, variable compression engine technology and onboard software systems to the partnership.
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said: "We are well aware there has been a lot of controversy around the use of our brand in F1 and I'm delighted to be able to formally clarify our position: We are Lotus, and we are back."
Dato' Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, Chairman of Proton and the majority shareholder in Lotus, said: "After careful consideration, we believe this arrangement will be fruitful from a commercial and marketing point of view."
The only fly in the ointment surrounding this exciting announcement is that Lotus Renault GP is an entirely separate entity from Lotus Racing that currently competes in F1. Furthermore, both teams will be using Renault engines in 2011, and both teams intend to run in similar black and gold liveries.
The decision by Proton to take Lotus back into F1 is undoubtedly to market the brand as it plans to move up market with a proposed new range of cars.
However, it is also seem as a response to the ongoing disagreements with Lotus Racing about the use of the Lotus and Lotus Racing names.
What it means is we could see Lotus racing Lotus in 2011 with similar liveries, identical engines and no love lost. However, many of the contract arguments are due to be heard by the High Court in London, so we many see some issues resolved before the start of the new season.