Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham Seven, Duxford, 2011

Fernandes wants “common brand” between Lotus and Caterham

2011 F1 season

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Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham Seven, Duxford, 2011
Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham Seven, Duxford, 2011

Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes says he wants to use his company’s takeover of Caterham to make affordable sports cars using F1 technology.

Fernandes said Caterham will benefit from increased exposure through Formula 1.

Speaking at the announcement of the deal at the Duxford aviation museum Fernandes said Lotus will “make Formula 1 accessible through Caterham”.

He said: “There will be lots of different types of racing we’ll be doing to allow our fans and Caterham fans to have an experience.

“We’ll obviously be using the technology that Mike [Gascoyne] and his team have got to put into Caterham cars. We will have some new models.”

He added: “My aim would be, at some stage, to have a common brand. I think that both have their aspirations.

“As to the way, shape and form some will be dependent on the legal case, some will depend on how it looks and feels, and I’ll take the view of the fans as well.

“So it’s all to play. But at least we’ve got something to play with, which is the objective. As to the eventual shape and form of this team, I don’t know to be honest.”

Fernandes said developing road cars was always part of the team’s plans:

“When we started this Formula 1 journey we always wanted to manufacture cars. We always thought Formula 1 produced a fantastic platform to do that.

“Unfortunately the gods conspired against us. Obviously we wanted to work with Group Lotus but that hasn’t happened.

“But it’s funny how life has a way of sorting itself out and things end up even better than what you first imagined.”

He added that Caterham “has a unique place at the heart of motoring world.”

Fernandes said: “The parallels between my original life at Air Asia, where we set up a new brand, and what we have with Caterham is uncanny. When I took over Air Asia they had 200 staff, there are about 200 staff in Caterham.

“The parallels of building something that will be reaching a much larger market is something we’re very excited about.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “Fernandes wants “common brand” between Lotus and Caterham”

  1. A carbon fibre Caterham?

    They’ll have to supply it with ballast so it doesn’t blow away. :D

    Wonder if he’s planning on slotting KERS into the Caterham Challenge cars to help the development?

  2. I know this is totally off topic…

    But I find it odd that when he had a GROUP Lotus license last year he thought it was okay to exploit the Team Lotus heritage (the car’s livery, the Chapman hat, etc.), but know he thinks that Group Lotus has no right to the heritage. Odd no?

    1. From what I read about the whole matter, he had been in contact with Hunt early on, only at the start Proton had the 1st right to have a shot on buying Team Lotus and they failed to do so, making way for Fernandes to agree with Hunt on his own.

      But sure, it does not lack oppertunism.

  3. As much as I am more sympathetic to Team Lotus, I do have a feeling that has been a bit too ambitious with his plans. Planning to go into car production when you are licensing another manufactures name, shows some form of deception.
    The fact he now has rights to Team Lotus, doesn’t detract from the the fact that he hasn’t always been straight forward.
    You may have good intentions, but the era of Robin Hood is long gone.

    1. The fact is, Fernandes is not licencing anything from Lotus cars or GL. He has bought the rights to the original Team Lotus (if the courts hold up their existance again, just as it did in the past).

  4. Unfortunately the gods conspired against us. Obviously we wanted to work with Group Lotus but that hasn’t happened.

    I don’t understand why Group Lotus did not back Lotus Racing in 2010 instead of buying a new team. If they had done so they would have cooperated and Team Lotus would have been in F1 and Lotus Cars would have produced cars with the F1 technology.

    1. I don’t think Tony understands either.

      Still, he’s got a goal in mind and he’s just going to hammer it until he wins. You might side with Team Lotus or Group Lotus, but in the end it’s pretty obvious that only one will be standing.

      He’s turning this (once again) into social capital. Group lotus don’t want unification, Team Lotus want (and always wanted – which I think is actually hontest to god true) the manufacturing and racing arms of Lotus to be the same company.

    2. I think he chose Renault because of their instant potential for success, whereas Lotus are a long term project.

      1. Pretty much. Group Lotus saw how successful a season Team Lotus had and wanted to cash in on it…immediately.

        Pity really and a little short sighted.

        1. And loses a lot of respect from those who recognise its a silly PR exercise. At least team lotus tried to tie things in with the history of the team, whereas Group Lotus have done nothing more than plunder a famouse livery. Team Lotus seemed to have genuine concern about heritage, which is why I didn’t mind that they essentially just bought into the name and concept.

          Tema Lotus- used the lotus name as a chance to go racing and ressurect (and embrace) a famous name.
          Group Lotus- tacked their own name onto a car for marketing. Not all that much less preposterous than the Infiniti-Red Bull deal.

          Having said that, Fernandes does wind me up with some of his nonsense. At first I thought he was doing this just to annoy group lotus, and couldn’t see the point. But now, having a tie-in with a track-based manufacturer seems like a nice idea, especially with some shared heritage. And if caterham lends it’s name to the F1 team, then it’ll be good to see a specialist manufacturer represented on F1, and for the F1 team to be represented on the road in a way group Lotus didn’t want to allow.

    3. Because the whole Team/Group/Racing Lotus row isn’t anything to do with racing or promotion.

      Fernandes has been looking at taking over Proton for a while. He intended to use Lotus Racing (LR) to engineer a reverse takeover bid, by building up the F1 team, and using that to get inside the boardroom of Group Lotus (GL). However, factions inside the company saw what was going on and brought Dany Bahar in to out-shark the shark. When Fernandes saw that, he bought Team Lotus (TL) so he could continue the F1 team, and cause GL a headache. Now that LR is no more, and his ownership of TL may not work out, he’s gone for Caterham, so he has another backup plan if GL continue to go after TL and the remnants of LR. If he wins the court case, then expect him to put the pinch on GL severely (withdrawing the use of TL liveries on the Indycars and Renaults, for example). If he doesn’t, GL won’t be able to get much out of him for LR’s obligations, and TL may change hands, but then he’ll just rebrand as Caterham Air Asia (CAA) and keep going with an F1 team and small cheap sportscar operation (what he intended to do with GL anyway).

      So there you are, clear as anything.

      I said in the forum last year that Fernandes is the man I can see taking over from Bernie. He’s a deal maker, he hops from deal to deal, and isn’t interested in the content or the purpose, just the deal itself. Along the way, he’ll make sure he turns every deal to his advantage, and come up with options on the side other people aren’t thinking about, while he’s distracting them. That’s Bernie all over.

    4. Yeah, just does not make sense, does it. They could have had a nice image for hardly any cost.
      Instead they are throwing big money at a smoke pagacked Renault.

      1. Which also robbed us of the bumble bee livery.

  5. Good to see that Caterham will get F1 technology.

    1. Do Caterham owners, or potential owners want F1 technology in their cars?

      1. The current range of cars doesn’t have to change, but if they can bring in some new models then they can target those potential owners who may not have considered caterham before because of the 7s limitations.

      2. Come the 2013 rules I think perhaps yes.

        4 cyl turbo is right up caterham’s alley, and while the seven is front engined, I reckon caterham must have mulled over the possibility of going down the ariel atom styled midi route… transverse or not.

  6. “team principal Tony Fernandes says he wants to use his company’s takeover of Caterham to make affordable sports cars using F1 technology..”

    Great!!?.. so were going to get road car that does about 4mpg with tyres that disintegrate after about 50 miles. Oh and you might need to put a new engine and gearbox in every couple of weeks!

    F1 technology doesn’t end up on road cars these days, more like the other way round.

  7. “When we started this Formula 1 journey we always wanted to manufacture cars. We always thought Formula 1 produced a fantastic platform to do that.”

    Anybody else confused as I am? Under what brand would he make road cars if he hadnt bought Caterham? Lotus?

    1. yep, the plan was always to buy Group Lotus off Proton

  8. It does sound exciting for everyone involved, no need for the sour grapes though!

    I’m sure Caterham will blush a little given that Fernandes just said “Unfortunately the gods conspired against us. Obviously we wanted to work with Group Lotus but that hasn’t happened.”

    1. Unfortunately the gods conspired against us. Obviously we wanted to work with Group Lotus but that hasn’t happened.

      Well if all else fails for Tony he’d still have a bright future writing headlines for The Sun.

  9. Personally I can’t wait, hopefully Tony does change the name of Team Lotus to Team Caterham!, to me its a very exciting prospect, also like you said Tony you better listen to the fans…

    I’m a fan, and I want Mike Gascoyne in a tweed jacket, and make your pit wall look like a shed!.

    1. Next race for Heikki, its goodwoods Hillclimb! whoop whoop!.

      1. How awesome would team caterham be? Even better if it turns out Fernandez won the court case, just a massive **** off to gl!

  10. With all this talking up of Caterham “They have a unique place in the motoring road” I would be surprised if we didn’t get the Caterham – Renault next year.

  11. I hope it all ends well, both Bahar and Fernandez seem to have letten their ego’s to get in the way. And both their enterprises can end in tears easily.
    To me caterham and Renault are fine names for F1, Lotus should rest in peace again.
    New names are nicer to me then this retrostuff! Wouldn’t it be nice if Nintendo started a team?

    1. Only if they do promotional stunts with the driver throwing banana skins!

      I also feel the driver should have a suit and helmet designed to make them look like mario :)

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