Nearly five years ago i published one of my first articles on unracedf1.com. The last twenty-Five years of Team Lotus Part 1. There are multiple reasons why it never came to a part two in those years. However, this article can be seen as Part 2. After the team went into bankruptcy the team was rumoured a couple of time to return to the paddock. Eventually the team made it’s comeback. Leaving the Formula One just a few years later.
1990: Jackie Stewart and Team Lotus
While Stewart would debut in 1996 with his own team in the Formula One, mostly on the foundation of the ill-faded Ikuzawa project. Jackie Stewart was close to buy Team Lotus in late 1990. For under 10million dollar the team would be sold to the Scottish world champion. Somehow, he did not purchase the team. It is unclear what the condition were at that point.
1991: Jordan Grand Prix and Team Lotus
A rumour that has not been written before is one from 1991. It seems that the team was looking at the end of 1991 to merge with a Formula One team due to their own situation at that time. Rumours stated that Jordan Grand Prix and Team Lotus would merge with each other in favour of both teams. Eddie Jordan seems to have said on the 27th of June 2010 to BBC on television that he even had signed documents. However, the story is a bit different. When asking Ian Philips about it on twitter he stated that Eddie Jordan was looking to take over the team.
1994: Sam Brown purchased Team Lotus
On the 7th of December 1994 the owners of Team Lotus and Sam Brown, who sold his Connecticut telecommunications business in 1992, was to purchase Team Lotus and preserve it in the Formula One. Sam himself drove in the 1960s for Frank Williams in the Formula 2 and Formula 3. During the race at Jerez Brown and Collins had the intention to sign the letter of intent. Due to the lack of time this did not happen. The plan was to secure more sponsors and sign contract with an engine manufacturer who would supply the team in 1995 and 1996. Besides, the team would be able to continue developing the 112 for the 1995 season.
1994: Tom Walkinshaw
At the end of the 1994 season Heinz Prüller came with the news that Tom Walkinshaw, at that time working for Benetton, was looking to purchase Team Lotus. I couldn’t uncover much more information about it. It could be a same construction as Ligier and Minardi had with Benetton at some point.
1995: Team Lotus merged with Pacific Grand Prix
Before the end of the 1994 season the team was sold to David Hunt. Indeed the brother of James Hunt. He purchased the rights to use the name. On the 6th of February 1995, when it was clear they would not return on the grid, David Hunt announced that an alliance with Pacific Grand Prix also known as Pacific Racing was materialised. In 1995 Pacific was referred to as Pacific Team Lotus. The Team Lotus logo was presented on the PR02. However, after the 1995 season also Pacific would disappear from the grid. Even though it was said, they were to comeback already in 1996.
1996: David Hunt is willing to bring Team Lotus back on the grid
After the team disappeared from the grid there were nine cases at the courtyard! One of the was Mika Salo and Tyrrell involved. As well Chris Murphy the design of the team. While losing some cases Hunt was convinced that he would bring Team Lotus back in the Formula One.
1997: Lotus to race in Malaysia in 1998
In 1997 the rumours appeared that the team, with backing from Lotus Cars, would re-appear in 1998 on the grid, and race in Malaysia. These were the world of Mohamed Zainal, at that time Chief Executive of Group Lotus. There was no Team Lotus in the Formula one in 1998, nor did we race in in Malaysia either.
1997: Lotus to return in 1999
On the 10th of July 1997, David Hunt / Team Lotus delighted to announce that it was to be back on the grid in 1999. This news appeared via an official Press release by the team. Reading the release it seems that there were several new partners to bring the team on the grid. Which partners they were? That is unclear.
1998: Lotus to return in 1999
Team Lotus Holding had still good hopes in 1998 that they would re-appear on the grid in 1999. In 1998 the team was out of the court settlement with former Lotus F1 designer Chris Murphy. Which opened the doors for the team to make plans for the future. It is not sure if David Hunt is involved in this one. As he announced in 1997 already that the team would be back in 1999.
1998: Lotus Cars USA – Group Lotus Proton
Group Lotus announced in 1998 that it was considering using the Formula One as a means of promoting their Sportscars. In those days, the Formula One was probably the best way to promote. Group Lotus was owned by the Malaysian Proton Car company, which bought earlier 80% of the shares from Italian wheeler-dealer Romano Artioli. The team name would not be available to use however. As long, David Hunt was not involved. A bit like the shady situation in 2010.
1999: Lotus and the postponed Honda RA099 project
There were some weird rumours at the end of 1999 regarding the team and Honda. After the dead of Harvey Postlethwaite earlier that year, the Honda project was postponed. It meant that Honda would only supply BAR and Jordan with engines. The rumour went that Team Lotus would purchase or take over the project to make their comeback in 2000.
1999: Team Lotus to merge with Arrows F1
The same year another, more realistic, rumour appeared in the media. The Arrows F1 Team had a horrible year with a sponsor that wasn’t a sponsor at all, meaning no money. For 2000 the Arrows team struggled to find sponsors, regarding The Mail on Sunday, and was looking to merge their team. However, Tom Walkinshaw declined the rumour. In 2000, the team would appear with Orange and Chello sponsoring.
2000: Team Lotus to merge with Prost Grand Prix
Another merging rumour appeared on the grid. In 2000, Prost was struggling to survive. The team scored no points and the Peugeot V10 engine was far from reliable, so was Prost their chassis. To keep the team alive it was rumoured that Prost and Hunt were on speaking terms to merge or even purchase he team.
2001: BAR to be renamed to team Lotus
In 2001 the rumour circulated of BAR to be rebranded to Team Lotus. BAR wasn’t able to score decent results. Having Honda as their supplier, and wanting to only supply one team in 2003 it was said BAR was for sale. The connection was made due to the popularity in Japan so the team would keep the Honda engines. However, in 2001 a lot of rumours circulated regarding BAR’s future.