Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has insisted he would have no problem with Tony Fernandes' Team Lotus continuing with the same name in Formula 1 next year despite his company also entering the World Championship with Renault.
Today's confirmation that Group Lotus will become a shareholder in and title sponsor of the Renault team next year, and Fernandes' insistence that he owns the rights to the Team Lotus title and can therefore use it in F1, raises the prospect of two separate Lotus Renault teams appearing on the 2011 grid. But Bahar said that he would regard this as extra promotion for his brand, rather than a potential source of confusion or competition.
"Not [a problem] at all – for me, four are better than two," Bahar said in a BBC radio interview. "The controversy – that is something that has mainly been pushed up by media, I would say – has been dealt with directly by our shareholders in Malaysia and with the owners of the 1Malaysia racing team [Team Lotus' parent company], and doesn't really touch us. However, my personal opinion is that four Lotus brands out there is better than two. I have nothing against that."
Bahar explained that he felt Group Lotus stood a better chance of achieving cost-effective success by linking up with Renault than if it had gotten behind Fernandes' team.
"I think that's just a strategy decision, whether you want to build a team from scratch, which is a much, much more costly exercise," he said. "Maybe there is more satisfaction [with a brand-new team] for some individuals, but I think the time you consume and the money you spend in building a team from scratch into a winning team, we can just not afford that exercise.
"And I believe that our brand should be participating in all motor racing activities not for the sake of participating, but for the sake of winning. That's why we decided to go with one of the top five teams, because we believe there is the potential to go back to where they were when they were winning World Championship titles."
Group Lotus' F1 move follows a string of expansion announcements, including IndyCar and Le Mans programs, a tie-up with ART for GP2 and GP3, and a wide variety of new road car projects. Bahar said he had no doubts at all about the company's strategy and is certain that the F1 program will pay off.
"I don't think that myself, my management team, the shareholders and all the stakeholders involved would actually agree to a step like this if we were not convinced that it gives us the necessary returns for the brand we are now, and the brand we would like to become in the next two years," he said.