Team Lotus and Lotus Renault GP chiefs have dropped firm hints that the Lotus naming dispute could be resolved at the end of this year, leaving the way clear for both squads to be renamed.
After a long fight over the use of the "Team Lotus" name in F1, speculation is mounting that the Tony Fernades-owned team could be set to use a new name from 2012, with Renault adopting the Lotus moniker by itself. Although the matter would still need to go through official channels for the team and chassis names to be changed, the team bosses of both teams have suggested the situation is moving forward to ensure there will only be one Lotus team in 2012.
Renault boss Eric Boullier said: "I just saw in the paddock that [Group Lotus CEO] Dany Bahar was talking nicely with [Team Lotus boss] Tony Fernandes, so I guess there is a settlement that has been done. We will see. Changing the name of the team and chassis can have some complications with sponsorship and, obviously, with TV money, so it is a matter we have to raise when we have all the elements in our hands."
Group Lotus sponsors the Renault team and has made no secret of the fact it wants to re-brand the team and rename it as soon as it can. For Fernandes, who won the right to use the Team Lotus name after the matter went to court, he believes his squad may be better off using one of the brands that he owns. It is possible the team could adopt the Caterham Team AirAsia name that its GP2 squad has.
Fernandes said: "I always had a problem with, 'Am I really Team Lotus?' I always said that era was theirs; we were just bringing it back under new ownership. It was up to the fans whether they liked us or not.
"But there was a business behind it as well. You can't have a name and not monetize it. Effectively, we are marketing someone else. I don't think this is healthy for anyone – Lotus Renault, Team Lotus, whomever.
"I've always said that protecting the brand is paramount and it's not me who started all this. I didn't have a claim – they (Group Lotus) had a claim. And they lost that case. But I've always had the door open and it may be a win-win for everybody and we walk away.
"I also always said we wanted to be in the car business and I never hid that fact. And now we have Caterham."
As well as the likely name change, Team Lotus is also set to move factories next year. It is evaluating a switch to either Silverstone or the former Arrows and Super Aguri facility at Leafield, UK.
Fernandes added: "I think the best scenario is that the cars leave for Australia next year and come back to a new home. There's no two ways about it. But Hingham (the team's current British base) will always be there, because we've got composites and we're developing a technology and engineering division."