F1: Messrs Sue, Grabbit and Runne pile into historic name fight

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, June 11th, 2009

 
 

The family of Formula One world champion Sir Jack Brabham has announced that it has begun legal action against F1 hopeful Formtech in a bid to stop it using the name in its forthcoming entry.

It claims that bids to negotiate have failed, and now its only recourse is to legal action – and its announcement comes shortly after news that Lotus was prepared to go down the same path.

The Brabhams, who include Sir Jack’s three racing driver sons and a grandson hoping to make his mark in the sport, are unhappy not to have been consulted about the move – and are anxious to protect the integrity of their company Brabham Enterprises Ltd.

But German businessman Franz Hilmer, who bought Super Aguri’s assets after it went out of business, holds the rights to the team name and recently announced that he has used it to lodge a 2010 entry with the FIA in partnership with former staff of the team including technical director Mark Preston.

The Brabham statement reads; “Triple Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham and the Brabham family today confirmed that it has been necessary to commence legal action against Brabham Grand Prix Limited following Formtech’s application to enter the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2010 in that name.

“The Brabham family have made numerous approaches to Formtech with proposals to amicably resolve the situation.

“In the absence of any response from the team, the family has been left with no alternative but to issue the relevant proceedings to protect the family name, irrespective of whether Formtech is granted an entry by the FIA on Friday 12 June.

“The Brabham name has always been the property of the family and it is sad that once again steps have to be taken to protect it.”

In a separate development, Lotus Cars Ltd said it was unhappy about a bid by Litespeed duo Nino Singh Judge and Steve Kenchington, both former Lotus engineers, to team up with rights-holder David Hunt over their F1 bid.

The company said: “Group Lotus plc and its subsidiary Lotus Cars Limited, the manufacturer of the legendary Lotus Elise and global high technology engineering consultancy, are not connected or affiliated to, nor in any other way associated with the newly-announced ‘Team Lotus’ that has submitted an entry 2010 Formula 1 championship.

“Group Lotus plc will take all necessary steps to protect its name, reputation and brand image.”

But the Litespeed outfit has since said that there is no issue and that Group Lotus will be fully consulted about its brand image.

It’s all eerily reminiscent of Minardi, where the eponymous Giancarlo has the rights to use his own name in some series, while the team’s final owner Paul Stoddart was able to use it in others including F1 – in what had all the hallmarks of a carefully worked out business arrangement.

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