Fernandes hopes Lotus row ends soon

Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes has expressed his 'disappointment' about critical remarks made about him over the Lotus naming row - and says he cannot wait for the British courts to end the dispute once and for all

Fernandes hopes Lotus row ends soon

Fernandes was on the receiving end of criticism earlier this week from Renault team owner Gerard Lopez - who said that the Malaysian businessman should come clean about the real reasons behind the fight over the Lotus name.

Lopez suggested that the matter was purely about money - as a name change for Team Lotus would mean the outfit losing its television rights money.

Speaking in response to those suggestions, Fernandes expressed his annoyance that the dispute between him and Group Lotus, which is the Renault team's title sponsor, had blown up again in public.

"I am disappointed with it," he said when asked by AUTOSPORT about the matter. "I think it has become very personal. I have never made it personal - and what have I done wrong?

"I was offered a chance to restart Lotus. Proton agreed, they gave me a five-year deal. I did it in good faith, I spent my own money, I have spent £80 million building this team - and I then had the Lotus Racing contract unceremoniously violated for some T-shirt violations which we were challenging. I was smart enough to go and buy Team Lotus though.

"I love Lotus and I didn't want all this stuff. I said to the boys in the pits last year, who were very emotional, that we may give up the name because we don't want to drag Lotus into the mud. A few of them came and said: 'Don't do it, I was born in Norfolk, I worked for Lotus so don't do it.'

"I never wanted to give it up, I put my heart and soul into this, but for the sake of the brand I would do it. Well, Group Lotus offered me £6 million to give them everything, the name, everything - but we have spent £80 million. To accept their offer would have bankrupted the team as we would have lost the FOM money, and I wasn't going to do that.

"We have 250 jobs here, we put our own money in, and so we are going to carry on. And I feel good about it. I was reluctant to discuss that offer - but there was a lot of pressure on us."

The dispute between Team Lotus and Group Lotus will almost certainly be resolved early in the campaign - with the court hearing to decide the matter scheduled to begin on March 21. Fernandes said that he was eager for the matter to get sorted

"I am very happy that it has been brought forward," he said. "The quicker we do it the better, and we can both move on. I am very happy that Justice Smith said bring it forward."

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