Proton, the Malaysian carmaker, has an option to buy 10 per cent of the F1 team that bears the name of its sports car marque Lotus.
Rumours about Group Lotus’ health ramped up this week after it emerged that its title sponsorship of the Genii-owned Lotus team has been “terminated”. Group Lotus responded angrily to the subsequent speculation, albeit admitting it is grappling with “problems”.
The Proton-owned carmaker pointed the finger at Caterham’s Tony Fernandes, who was previously at the centre of a bitter F1 naming dispute with Lotus.
And also blamed for pedalling the rumours was Joe Saward, a British journalist who is also a Caterham director.
“And unlike some, we don’t want to get too personal, so we’ll leave it to you to judge how ‘independent’ his stories about Lotus are,” Group Lotus said in a media statement.
The truth, Lotus claims, is that Proton has loaned Genii $47 million, with the Enstone based team’s assets used as collateral.
“In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10 per cent of the F1 team,” said Group Lotus. “Another 10pc share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton.”