It’s official, we’re calling this ‘Lotus-gate’!

Team Lotus? Lotus Renault F1 GP? Lotus Group? Proton? 1MRT? It’s hard to know just what is going on and who is doing what in the world of Lotus. The litigious wrangling between 1MRT—the group who raced in 2010 as the Lotus Racing Team and claim naming rights to “Team Lotus”—and Proton/Group Lotus has all the charm, character and nuance of a third-world election battle minus the bloodshed.

As with all litigation, there is bravado and then there is reality. It seems that !MRT, or Team Lotus, is moving forward with their plan to participate in the 2011 F1 series at Team Lotus. Yesterday’s announcement from Renault F1’s majority owners, Genii Capital, that they have entered a long-term deal with the Lotus Group to become Lotus Renault F1 GP was a big issue and has many wondering just when Renault might officially leave the sport even as an engine supplier.

All that said, 1MRT boss, Riat Asmat, has responded to the announcement of Lotus Renault F1 GP:

“For us, we continue to do what we are doing and the management’s focus is to ensure Team Lotus has a competitive car next year,”

While Proton says they have the exclusive rights to the name Lotus, 1MRT says they actually have exclusive rights to the name “Team Lotus”:

“Oh, they said they own the name, well we own the name Team Lotus (and) that is why we are racing as Team Lotus.

“I am sure Lotus cars are theirs and I am sure they have rights for that one (but) we are not Lotus, we are Team Lotus,” Riat said.

“Did anyone have any specific guidelines (about who can use the Lotus name)…I am not aware of that.”

What we do know is that Team Lotus or 1MRT will be racing in 2011 with a Renault engine and Red Bull gearbox. We also, apparently, are to understand that Group Lotus will now be racing as Lotus Renault F1 GP with a lotus engine and gearbox. Confused yet?

In effect there will be Team Lotus and Lotus Renault F1 GP. This just in, Mercedes GP will still be Mercedes GP…just checking. Sheesh, anyone get the feeling AsiaPac is a meshing world of raw spirit meets Wall Street in a sort of old world verve meets new world litigation? Throw a few dollars into the raw, unfettered world of “emerging markets” and you get a new version of caning with a briefcase and poorly tied necktie. Wake me when it’s over.

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