Lotus saga: No feelings lost between Proton and Air Asia, its purely business

National car maker Proton Group Holdings has claimed that they are the ‘real Lotus’ with the current issue of who owns the rights to the Lotus name in next season’s Formula 1 World Championship as the saga continues. If you haven’t already know, the Lotus name has been in the limelight recently over who owns the rights to use it as Proton had withdrew its sponsorship from the 1Malaysia Formula 1 racing team over the dispute. The 1Malaysia team, led by team principal Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes which raced under the banner of Lotus Racing last season recently announced that the team will change to Team Lotus next season while Proton acquired Renault F1 team and will be racing under the Lotus Renault F1 banner next season.

According to Datuk Sri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, the chairman of Proton, they are ‘the real Lotus’ and has every right to use the name in the sport. Lotus will be the title sponsor and will eventually be the co-owners of the new team after departing from the 1Malaysia team. Nadzmi said that the reason why they are so confident that they are the real deal is because Proton is the owner of Lotus and they are the manufacturer of the supercars.

On the other hand, Riad Asmat, the Chief Executive of the Lotus Racing Team claims that the name, regardless of who the manufacturers are is owned by the company Team Lotus Ventures owned by David Hunt, which was acquired by Tune Group, owned by Fernandes and hence, they have every right to use the Team Lotus banner. He also claimed that Proton had tried to buy the company previously but was not successful.

From Proton’s standpoint, there are no feelings lost between them and Fernandes as it is purely business and therefore no one is taking it personally. This was said by Nadzmi and echoed by the Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir. The case will be deliberated on the British High Court on who owns the rights to use the name and until then, the issue is still unsolved. The former prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is currently the advisor of Proton however claimed that the reason why the Lotus issue is happening is because the national car maker wanted to mount a serious challenge in F1 after last season’s disappointing outing.