By Will Silk
Amidst the rumors and ongoing legal battles between Group Lotus and the 2010 Team Lotus race organization run by Tony Fernandes, Group Lotus announced they will indeed return to the arena of Formula 1 racing in 2011.
Group Lotus is better known for the production of the Elise, Exige, and Evora sports cars with several more models waiting in the wings to be brought to market in the next five years. Group Lotus partnered with Genii Capital to purchase the majority stake in the Renault F1 Team. By making such an acquisition the genuine Lotus name will once again appear on a Formula 1 racing car and the livery has already been announced to pick up where Lotus and Renault left off in 1986 with the carbon-Kevlar monocoque 98T variant that was piloted by Johnny Dumfries and the late Ayrton Senna.
“I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1. We’re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position: We are Lotus, and we are back,” commented Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar.
While on the Renault side of the deal, Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO of Renault said, “This multi-partner alliance will bring a new dynamic to the team and enable it to compete with the sport’s best from next season.”
According to the Renault F1 site, the team appears set to stay at their Enstone, UK facility; with Renault continuing to provide power train and other forms of technical support. The epic journey for this has been some 30 years in the making, as many will recall that the Enstone based team originated as Toleman in 1981, before being taken over by Benetton in 1986. Under the Benetton name the team achieved the 1995 Constructors Championship with Michael Schumacher, before becoming Renault F1 in 2002, and adding two more world titles to their roster with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.
While the 2011 car is set to give the world a relapse to 1986 with its traditional black and gold livery of the JPS days, Formula 1’s future plans for a new engine formula in 2013 still remain speculation at this point in time. However, there is rumor of returning to a turbocharged engine formula which would make this whole journey utterly complete. Now, if Bernie would only return the U.S. Grand Prix to Detroit…
[Source: Group Lotus]