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Fernandes "bullied"

NEWS STORY
16/12/2010

The Lotus row has taken a further sordid little twist with Tony Fernandes claim that Group Lotus has used "bully-boy tactics" tactics.

Fernandes, who according to Forbes has a personal fortune of $205m (131m) - which makes him the 15th richest person in Malaysia - made the claim in an interview with BBC Sport while talking about the tactics being used by Group Lotus which last week bought into the Renault F1 team.

Referring to comments made by (Renault team principal) Eric Boullier, who claimed that it was "false" for Fernandes to associate his outfit with the legendary team formed by Colin Chapman, and Dany Bahar's claim that he had made "ridiculous and absurd" (financial) demands of Group Lotus, Fernandes said: "I've never seen such a barrage of comments from a group of people. It has annoyed me. It's a little bit of bully-boy tactics.

"The thing that annoyed me most is Dany Bahar implying we wanted too much money and that Renault was a third of the cost of what it would have been to do a deal with Lotus Racing," he continued. "They have been quoted saying they are spending in the region of 15-20m a year on Renault, which implies we asked for 45-60m. That's more than our entire budget. We were never close to an offer and it's completely untrue to say we requested three times what they're paying Renault."

Referring to Boullier's comments, he continued: "I have never claimed the Team Lotus legacy. I never wanted to be Team Lotus. I'd rather that rested with Clive Chapman. I'd rather form a new chapter, bring the Lotus name back to F1, build a team on the traditions of Colin Chapman, but in no way could we say we had anything to do with him.

"We are pragmatic," he said. "There should be a solution, but we should also do what is right for the brand. We went in with the right spirit, we honoured the past, we didn't say we were anything to do with the past, we were quite happy being Lotus Racing and we wanted to continue as that. Our licensing agreement was unceremoniously terminated unlawfully and at any stage we would welcome a way to sort this out. But it's got to be equitable and respect what we have done.

"If they come off their high horses, who knows? I'd say it's highly unlikely but three months ago if you'd said Group Lotus would be sponsoring Renault, I'd have laughed at you. It's a branding disaster."

No Mr Fernandes, it's this continued public and, in all honesty, quite pathetic, squabbling that is the disaster and most fans are sick to death of it.

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