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Lotus name could make F1 return in 2010 07 Jun 2009

Race winner Mario Andretti (USA) Lotus 79 leads his team mate Ronnie Peterson (SWE) who finished second. French Grand Prix, Paul Ricard, 2 July 1978. World © Phipps/Sutton Emerson Fittipaldi (BRA) Lotus 72D was running in second place when he retired on the eleventh lap with a cracked gearbox casing. German Grand Prix, Nurburgring, 1 August 1972. Victor Correa (BRA), Litespeed F3. British Formula Three Championship, Rd2, Silverstone, England, 2-3 May 2009. (L to R): Colin Chapman (GBR) Lotus Team Owner sits with Mario Andretti (USA) Lotus, who still led the World Championship despite crashing out at the start of the race. Austrian Grand Prix, Rd 12, Osterreichring, Austria, 13 August 1978. World ©  Phipps/Sutton

The famous Lotus name could return to Formula One racing next season if UK Formula Three team Litespeed have their entry for the 2010 championship accepted by the FIA next week.

Litespeed team principal Nino Judge and engineering director Steve Kenchington are both former Team Lotus employees and have secured permission to use the title from its current owner David Hunt, though the bid has no connection to Group Lotus plc and its roadcar-making subsidiary Lotus Cars Limited.

"Team Lotus is synonymous with great British engineering and F1 innovation, such as the Lotus 25 being the first monocoque chassis in F1 and the introduction of groundbreaking sponsorship, both of which easily demonstrate why ex-Lotus personnel would want to bring this championship-winning name back to the formula," said Judge.

"David Hunt has been the custodian of the name for so many years and we thank him for entrusting us not just with its safeguard but, more importantly, its development in the racing world of tomorrow."

Litespeed have already engaged the services of MGI Ltd, headed by former Toyota and Force India technical director Mike Gascoyne, to work on the team’s F1 project and Gascoyne too welcomed plans to revive the Lotus name.

"I am Norfolk born and bred," he said. "For me to continue my F1 career under the banner of the Team Lotus name and help to bring it back to its deserving place in the world championship is a fantastic feeling and something that I am extremely proud to be doing."

Litespeed have also recruited former Lotus F1 driver Johnny Herbert as a driver manager and commercial ambassador for the team.

Lotus, who disappeared from Formula One racing at the end of 1994, remain one of the most successful team’s in the sport’s history, winning seven constructors’ titles, as well as drivers' championships with Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, Emerson Fittipaldi and Mario Andretti.

The FIA will announce the list of successful 2010 team entries on Friday, June 12, with up to 13 names expected to feature.