The head of Lotus Renault GP used the unveiling its new car on Monday to launch a bitter attack on rival Team Lotus, which he accused of damaging Formula One by fighting to keep the name of the legendary automaker.
“Honestly, there’s only one Lotus car company,” Lotus Renault chairman Gerard Lopez said.
“I don’t think there’s any question about who is going to be who on the race track, but I think it’s quite damaging to have that go around the Lotus name.”
Lotus returned to Formula One last season under Tony Fernandes, the flamboyant founder of Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia.
However, in September last year, Malaysian automaker Proton, which owns a controlling stake in Lotus, terminated Fernandes’ license, forcing him to drop the original name of Lotus Racing and compete as Team Lotus this season.
Then in December last year, the Lotus group took a major equity stake in the Renault Formula One team for this season, which was renamed Lotus Renault GP for this season.
However, legal action is ongoing over the use of the name and both teams are set to compete in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on March 13.
Lopez was speaking at the Ricardo Tormo circuit near Valencia, where Lotus Renault unveiled its new car with its striking black and gold livery — as Team Lotus also sought to grab the limelight with an online launch just hours earlier.
Lopez said the new R31 is “quite revolutionary” and will have “over 92 percent new components.”
“We gave our engineers a blank sheet with this new single-seater. Only one instruction: be daring, try to innovate, take risk,” he said. “The basis of this year’s car is much faster than last year. If last year we did a couple of podiums, this year we should be able to fight for some wins.”
Renault finished a disappointing fifth in the constructors’ championship last season, with drivers Robert Kubica of Poland and Russia’s Vitaly Petrov in eighth and 13th places respectively.
Bruno Senna, nephew of Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, was announced as a back up driver on Monday, joining France’s Romain Grosjean.
“We are definitely more prepared this year, we are in a more stable situation,” Kubica said. “It’s good to have Lotus as a partner, it’s given even more stability, although I read a lot of rumors about the name on the Internet.”
In what was seen as a snub to Lotus Renault, Team Lotus launched its new car online a few hours before that of its rival.
“There has been so much focus off-track it’s a thrill to be able to get back to talking about racing,” Fernandes was quoted as saying on the team’s Web site.
Riad Asmat, Team Lotus’ chief executive officer, said the new T128, which has green and yellow livery, takes the outfit “in exactly the right direction.”
Earlier, struggling Swiss outfit Sauber looked to Mexico as it revealed its new car for this season.
Mexican rookie Sergio Perez, who turned 21 this month, will be the No. 2 driver to Japan’s Kumai Kubayashi in the new white and graphite-colored Sauber C30-Ferrari.
The first Mexican to compete in Formula One for three decades, he comes to Sauber along with four major Mexican sponsors this year.
Ferrari were the first team to unveil their car for this year, in Italy on Friday.
The new Ferrari design -incorporates the various regulation changes that will be enforced this season — most notably the introduction of an adjustable rear wing and the removal of devices such as F-ducts and double diffusers.
This season will also see the return of KERS, a device that stores energy created by braking, which can be used to boost power at certain points during the race. Another important change for this season is the introduction of tires from the Italian company Pirelli, which takes over from Bridgestone as the sport’s sole tire supplier.
“With so many changes this year, the task facing us is bigger than in previous years and understanding KERS, the rear wing and the new tires will need a lot of laps,” Kubica said.
The NBA said was re-evaluating its training program in China following allegations of abuse of young players by local staff and harassment of foreign staffers at a facility in Xinjiang. The comments come after a report by ESPN that quoted unnamed American coaches as saying that Chinese coaches hit young players. One American coach who worked at a camp in Xinjiang complained of harassment by local police, the sports network said. “The allegations in the ESPN article are disturbing,” NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum said in an e-mail statement on Thursday. “We ended our involvement with the basketball academy in Xinjiang in June
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on