CEO Dany Bahar has not ruled out Group Lotus building an engine to power its new formula one foray.
The Proton-owned manufacturer has teamed up initially as title sponsor with some equity in the Renault F1 team, but is not hiding grander ambitions for the future.
Bahar met in London for a media dinner on Wednesday, where he confirmed that Group Lotus has “plans underway” to consider whether to build its own engines for its sports cars as well as an engine for Indycar in 2012.
“We have the capacity, we design engines for other OEMs so there is no reason why we should not be able to build and design engines for ourselves,” said Bahar, who admitted that an F1 engine programme is a “long way” from concrete.
“This is the first step, having a complete own product – a sports car with an own engine – and then the rest is a logical consequence,” he added.
But the main topic of conversation with the reporters in London was the embittered spat with Team Lotus, and Bahar said he expects the dispute to be settled out of court.
He admitted that the apparently logical solution – an amicable tie-up with Tony Fernandes – foundered due to the Malaysian millionaire’s “ridiculous and absurd” demands.
The likely outcome is that Fernandes’ outfit will be called Team Lotus in 2011 while Renault does not apply to change its chassis name due to the commercial ramifications.
Bahar concluded that it is therefore “unfortunately” inevitable that “commentators will just use the name Renault” to describe the Enstone based team until a name change can coincide with a new Concorde Agreement in 2013.
But no doubt to the chagrin of Fernandes’ group, he added: “(The name) Team Lotus is something that should rest in peace.”
He confirmed that Group Lotus doesn’t want “anyone (else) to call their car Lotus because the Lotus car is our brand. We are just a car company trying to come up with a new formula one programme”.
Bahar also dismissed claims that the plans for the black and gold livery next year, inspired by the John Player Special Lotus cars of the past, is a reminder of F1’s cigarette-laden era.
He insisted that next year’s Renault livery will not have any “negative implications with potential tobacco advertising”.
© RIF | GMM