Posted Nov 6th 2011 2:03PM
What's in a name? More than you might think, particularly in Formula One where two teams have been fighting for use of the Lotus moniker for a couple of years now.
The battle, as you may recall, involves two outfits – neither of them directly owned by Lotus. One is based in Malaysia and licensed the name from Lotus' parent company, Proton, before subsequently "acquiring" the name from a third party that laid claim to it. The issue was further complicated when Lotus itself teamed with the Renault F1 team (which also happens to supply engines to the other Lotus team), resulting in two squads called Lotus-Renault.
The two operations have now reached a compromise. The green-and-yellow Malaysian outfit known until now as Team Lotus be named Caterham in 2012 (having bought that company recently), while the Renault team will be cleared to use the Lotus name.
The move further distances Renault from direct involvement with any particular team, stepping back to a more traditional engine-supply role with teams like Lotus, Caterham, Williams and, of course, the world-champion Red Bull Racing team.
The F1 Commission also approved a name change for Virgin Racing, which will drop the name of Richard Branson's company from its official moniker and adopt that of Marussia, the Russian exotic carmaker that bought into the team last year. All three team name changes will require official ratification from the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA, but that's seen as a pro-forma step that isn't expected to derail any plans.