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Fernandes denies demanding too much for Lotus deal

As the Lotus dispute rages on, Tony Fernandes has hit back at Dany Bahar’s claim that the parties did not unite in F1 due to his “ridiculous and absurd” demands.

Bahar, Group Lotus’ CEO, had responded to journalists’ claim this week that the logical solution was a deal with Fernandes rather than the confusing prospect of two warring teams both called Lotus in 2011.

The Swiss had gone so far as to reveal that Fernandes demanded “three times” the money that has ultimately been invested in the Renault deal.

“Interesting to read Dany Behar’s comments about wanting to work with us, don’t think anyone here noticed that!” said Team Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne on Twitter.

The Briton’s boss also slammed Bahar’s claims.

“The thing that has annoyed me most is Dany Bahar implying we wanted too much money and that Renault was a third of the cost of what it would have been to do a deal with Lotus Racing,” Fernandes told the BBC.

“They have been quoted saying they are spending in the region of 15-20m (pounds) a year on Renault, which implies we asked for 45-60 million.  That’s more than our entire budget,” said the Malaysian.

“We were never close to an offer and it’s completely untrue to say we requested three times what they’re paying Renault.”

The worsening war-of-words between the two Lotuses has highlighted the need for a resolution, and Bahar said this week he is confident the two Malaysian sides – Group Lotus owner Proton and Fernandes – want to avoid a deeper battle.

“We are pragmatic,” said Fernandes.  “There should be a solution, but we should also do what is right for the brand.

“Our licensing agreement was unceremoniously terminated unlawfully and at any stage we would welcome a way to sort this out.  But it’s got to be equitable and respect what we have done,” he insisted.

“If they (Group Lotus/Proton) come off their high horses, who knows?

“I’d say it’s highly unlikely but three months ago if you’d said Group Lotus would be sponsoring Renault, I’d have laughed at you.  It’s a branding disaster,” added Fernandes.

 © RIF | GMM