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April 6th, 2012
Lotus has terminated its title sponsorship deal with sportscar manufacturer Group Lotus, AUTOSPORT can reveal, but remains wholly committed to keeping the famous name in Formula 1 for the future.
On the back of financial uncertainties for Group Lotus, which was recently sold by Proton to Malaysian automotive conglomerate DRB-Hicom, Lotus F1′s team owner Genii Capital has ended its formal relationship with the marque.
AUTOSPORT understands that Genii owner Gerard Lopez recently agreed a deal for the title sponsorship deal, which was originally put together in 2010, to be cancelled, as well as an old option that Proton had to buy 50% of the team annulled.
Speaking about the situation, Lopez told AUTOSPORT: “The sponsorship agreement and the obligations of Lotus have been terminated. There is no option from Group Lotus to buy into F1 now – that option was taken over by us. There was one, but we have taken it over now.”
Although the end of the Group Lotus sponsorship tie-up means a change of plans for the team, Lopez says that he remains committed to the Lotus name.
“We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1,” he explained. “We funded the team last year and the year before for whatever delta was missing. We would prefer to have sponsors up to the full amount – but if we have to fund it then we will fund it.
“When we changed the name from Lotus Renault to Lotus [for this year], it opened up the door for a title sponsor. So if you take into account the fact we signed Unilever, probably the biggest sponsorship agreement this year in F1, and we signed Microsoft, which is huge news as it is a brand that has never been in F1 before, we have a wide space for sponsorship.
“If we sign a title sponsor now, we will end up with a better cash flow situation than this team ever had before.”
Lopez has previously been linked with a potential takeover of Group Lotus, having held talks with Proton before it was recently sold, but he says the situation for him at present is unclear in light of the DRB-Hicom deal.
When asked if he would be interested in buying Group Lotus, Lopez said: “We don’t know yet, because we really do not know what the new owner wants to do with it.”