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Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Sunday, 12 December 2010

Team Lotus revert to green & yellow colour scheme

The Lotus Racing cars at the Brazilian Grand Prix
Lotus were the most impressive of the new teams in 2010

Team Lotus have abandoned plans to race in the same colours as rivals Lotus-backed Renault in 2011 in the latest twist in the dispute between the two.

Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said it made no sense having four cars in the same black and gold livery.

"Whether they copied us or we copied them that's beside the point now. The point is what makes sense," he said.

"Having two Lotus brands on the grid is no issue. Four black cars looking the same is silly and one has to relent."

Team Lotus will now use a variation on the green-and-yellow colour scheme they used in their debut season in 2010, when they competed as Lotus Racing.

Fernandes's team used the Lotus name under licence from Malaysian company Proton, which owns the Lotus Group, last season.

Fernandes has changed the name to Team Lotus after buying the rights to the historic name from its owner David Hunt, who bought it following the team's collapse for financial reasons in 1994.

We're not childish and emotional and saying, 'Oh no, we've got to be black and gold.' We're pragmatic

Tony Fernandes
Team Lotus boss

The Malaysian businessman is now in dispute with the Lotus Group, which claims it has the sole rights to race as Lotus in F1, and the battle will go to the High Court next year.

In a separate dispute, Fernandes is suing Lotus Group for breach of contract after they ended the five-year licence they had granted the Air Asia airline boss to use the Lotus name in F1.

Fernandes announced his team's plans to use a black and yellow colour scheme in 2011 at the season-closing Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November.

But last week Lotus Group announced they had formed a partnership with the Renault F1 team and planned to use a similar design.

The black and yellow colours reference the historic John Player Special livery made famous by Team Lotus in the 1970s and 1980s.

Lotus Group plans to buy a shareholding in Renault F1 following the French car company's decision to sell its 25% stake to the owner of the remainder of the shares, Luxembourg private investment group Genii Capital.

Fernandes said: "We're not childish and emotional and saying, 'Oh no, we've got to be black and gold.' We're pragmatic."

Lotus Renault in 2011 colours
Lotus Renault will use a black and gold colour scheme in 2011

His decision comes after his chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne asked the team's fans on the social network site Twitter last week what colour scheme the team should use in 2011. The vast majority voted for green and yellow - which were Team Lotus' 1960s colours.

Fernandes added that the association with a tobacco brand, the advertising of which is banned, had also made him think twice.

"There has been a lot of negativity about being associated with a cigarette brand," said Fernandes. "There was a strong lobby building up against that we were promoting a cigarette brand. So everything happens for the right reasons."

Fernandes said he had wanted to continue as Lotus Racing but the deal had been terminated by the other side.

"I'm disappointed at the way things have turned out," he said. "We received a five-year licence agreement from Proton and Group Lotus to go into Formula 1.

"The reason why it wasn't Team Lotus was because they clearly told us they didn't have the rights (to that name) so they gave us the licence.

"We initially called ourselves F1 Lotus Team but their lawyer said, 'No, you can't use Team because David Hunt may injunct us. So we changed it to Lotus Racing. We thought we had five years to go out there and prove ourselves.

"My original aim was that somehow we would merge or do something together and co-exist," added Fernandes. "Those plans all changed when (Lotus Group boss) Dany Bahar appeared on the scene. He had a very low regard for us."

Bahar got his position at Group Lotus after spells in the commercial arms of Red Bull and Ferrari.

Lotus Racing established themselves as the best of the new teams in 2010, but were some way off the pace of any of the established teams.

Renault finished fifth in the constructors' championship, and took three podiums through their highly-rated driver Robert Kubica.

Fernandes said: "They have said that they will beat us on the track next year and I have no doubt that they will at the beginning of the season. But towards the end of the season, I think we will chip away and be closer and closer.

"We haven't acquired a team that was built up by a car company, we have built it from scratch and we think that adds more value and credibility to the brand.

"I think it's no secret that Dany Bahar wants to emulate Ferrari, but Ferrari built everything from scratch. It is a racing team that became a car company and is completely integrated."

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see also
Renault F1 sign deal with Lotus
08 Dec 10 |  Formula 1

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