Jun 25, 2010

Old names and new teams

Let me make myself perfectly clear: I believe that a sport diminishes itself when it allows participants to take credit for others’ accomplishments.

Now, if that makes me one of these “purists” who wants to stick with tradition, so be it.

That brings me to Lotus Racing.

Now some Formula One journalists that I respect have argued that Tony Fernandes has shown the proper respect to be a suitable heir to the legend of Team Lotus.

As they point out, the car is green and yellow, the team is based close to the old Lotus headquarters and its first chassis took a Lotus nomenclature.

And, kudos to new owner Tony Fernandes for going to Colin Chapman’s family and asking permission to use the Lotus name.

But in the end, that doesn’t make it Team Lotus. And it certainly doesn’t make it right.

In hockey here in North America, I have a similar issue with the Ottawa Senators franchise which began in the early 1990s using the name of a team that players in the city almost a century ago. There is no connection to the old squad, and the records for the new team only begin when the new franchise started playing.

Yet, the Ottawa Senators have Stanley Cup banners hanging from their rafters that belong to the original team but are displayed in the new franchise’s colours. And the team always talks about winning its first Cup in the modern era.

Sorry kids, but there’s no connection to the old team and its accomplishments except for the name. And the sport shouldn’t allow those lines to be drawn and fans should not stand for it either.

Competing, winning and finding success in the top echelon of any sport is supposed to be difficult and fans should not accept sport allowing teams to take shortcuts.

Formula One is included in that group.

Really, isn’t that why there were howls of protest when Bernie Ecclestone suggested there should be passing shortcuts designed into circuits to help drivers overtake?

If the new Team Lotus wants to keep that tradition alive, more power to them. The rub is that they can do that in many ways, such as adopting the team’s ethics, drive and spirit.

Unfortunately, the new team chose to adopt Team Lotus’ records, wins and races as its own and is now claiming that Valencia is Lotus’ 500th start and the next victory will be No. 80 for the squad.

This is not the way to go. Bottom line is that route only makes it seem to me that sportsmanship got lost along that way as the marketing folks took full branding control.

So, for me, Valencia is and always will be Lotus Racing’s ninth start and its next win will be its first. And no one can convince me otherwise.


  1. I agree with what you said about the records. Having permission to use the name I accept, the race statistics, definitely not.
    Of the three new teams, this is most likely to get a point, whether its Heikki or the possiblity its a Force India design I really could care less at this point, I just want these teams to get something to shut the others up about how slow they are.

  2. Well said, Jeff. I am no sports fan, but I am a big fan of playing fair. I never did understand anyone wanting to ride on someone else's coattails. Where's the fun, challenge or honour in that?