Group Lotus owner Proton insists it had to link up with a front-running team like Renault if it was to enhance its image.
Following a decision by Group Lotus to become title sponsor and shareholder in the Renault team, there have been questions asked about the benefits to the company of going down the route it has taken, while the rival Team Lotus pushes on with its own ambitions. The matter is further complicated by the fact that Team Lotus is the only entry that will be running a "Lotus" chassis next year, with the Group Lotus-backed squad running Renault cars.
Former Malaysian prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad, who is an adviser to Proton, has spoken publicly for the first time and explained the reasons behind the decisions of the Malaysian car company.
"There are some reasons why Proton is not happy with giving the name to Team Lotus as their performance is also not good," he told the Malaysian Star in a video interview during an appearance over the weekend. "People reflect the performance on Lotus itself, so we have to find a way to be more successful. And I think teaming up with Renault is very good because Renault has done very well – even becoming champions."
Mahatir said he had no doubts about which outfit had the right to use the Lotus name. "Lotus (Group Lotus) is the rightful owner of the name 'Lotus,'" he said.
Team Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes said over the weekend that he could not understand why Group Lotus felt his squad's performances were not good enough, considering the circumstances of its late entry.
"There are comments that have emerged in the Malaysian press that Proton was disappointed with our performance, which is one of the reasons that they gave up," he said. "I don't know how anyone in their right mind could expect us to be competing in the top half of the grid – or even up in the bottom half of the grid, last year – having just been given an entry in September."