Proton: Success vital for Lotus in F1

Group Lotus owner Proton insists it 'had' to link up with a front-running team like Renault if it was to enhance its image

Proton: Success vital for Lotus in F1

On the back of 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 outfit running Renault cars.

Now influential former Malaysian prime minister Tun Dr 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 at 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."

Dr Mahatir also said he had no doubts in his opinion 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 told AUTOSPORT at the weekend that he could not understand why Group Lotus felt his outfit'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.

"I stand by the fact that I think we did very well in the year and I think that 99 per cent of the paddock would agree considering where we came from.

"We built a classy team, a team that could do pit stops in the same time as Ferrari - we looked good, we had a good motorhome and performed well on the track with two good drivers.

"We were the best of the new teams. We had two good drivers and Heikki Kovalainen said he had the greatest season he has had in F1 - which is great testament from a guy who has driven for McLaren and Renault."

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