Lotus F1 boss Tony Fernandes (LEFT) says his team's change of name to "Team Lotus" in 2011 is a vital move in helping it secure more control over its own destiny.
Although, from the outside, the switch from Lotus Racing to the historic Team Lotus brand may appear quite minor, Fernandes says there are significant positives from the move. One of the biggest is that the squad is no longer dependent on securing a licensing deal from road car division Group Lotus, so instead can be wholly independent in its plans.
"That was the main motivation," said Fernandes, when asked if having more control over its own future was important. "When you are spending $87 million, it is a bit scary if someone else is controlling your own destiny."
Fernandes' team is in the process of terminating its current license deal with Group Lotus, and he said that his plan from when he started his F1 venture was to secure the Team Lotus brand.
"Yes, for me it was – but there was no rush because I wanted to use this year to earn respect," he said. "There are so many parts of Team Lotus – the Chapman family, David Hunt, the fans, Norfolk – so it is really a deep history. And who was I to come in and say, 'I am Team Lotus'?
"So we have done it slowly and surely, and tried to make the action speak louder than the words. I felt that we had come to a point where we were getting very deep in investment and commitment, and I didn't felt comfortable having a license from someone else and we needed to secure our own future.
"We tried to do it at the beginning but I didn't want to force it as well, because I had never met Clive Chapman before and I didn't really know David Hunt, so I thought we would do it this year. It was in my mind map – and my target was Abu Dhabi, to be honest, but it came together slightly quicker."
The official name of the team for 2011 has not yet been finalized, but Fernandes said that Bernie Ecclestone was keen for it to be known as "Team Lotus F1 Team."
Fernandes said he did not read the plans by Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar to tie up with ART in GP3 and GP2 next year as a direct challenge to his own efforts for an Air Asia Team in GP2.
"No, I don't think so," he said. "Dany went out and wanted to be in racing and we didn't know – he didn't know we were applying for Team Air Asia. It doesn't make sense and we should try to collaborate, and from a business perspective there are a lot of things to sort out at Group Lotus other than setting up a GP2 team."
He added: "We met Dany in Malaysia recently. Dany wants Group Lotus to be Ferrari, but it isn't. I didn't build it that way – it is the way that Colin Chapman did it. There are two pools of goodwill – there is Team Lotus and Group Lotus. Team Lotus did not build [road] cars, and none of our press statements claim that we built Esprits or built a Lotus Elan. And, Group Lotus doesn't have any racing heritage because it didn't race. Period. That is very clear.
"I didn't set the company up that way; that is the way it was set up. Ferrari was always as one, so I suppose Dany would like to be one. That is the feeling I get. But that is not my doing."