Lotus CEO Dany Bahar is under scrutiny yet again, after Genii Capital owned Lotus F1 Team split with the Norfolk car maker, who up until last week, were title sponsors of the team.

However speculation continues apace that trouble is deepening at Hethel. Lotus sold just 10 cars in the UK last month, up from February’s performance of just 2 cars. Sales in the UK are down 70-80%, compared to this time last year, and our contacts in Malaysia tell us that Proton are looking closely at how to save face during the intense scrutiny of DRB-Hicom’s due diligence process.

So, we know Lotus are under a great deal of pressure at the moment and our thoughts go to the many hard-working folk in Hethel, who are dealing with the daily onslaught of questions.

In the light of continued speculation, Lotus has taken the extraordinary step this evening and released a full statement to dispel the most recent rumours and clarify the present situation. It’s an unconventional approach to calming down a PR crisis, especially considering how personally they’ve written the statement, but perhaps it reflects just how serious the situation has become.

11/04/2012 – Statement from Group Lotus

“Never let the facts get in the way of a good story..”

“Take a little look at what we found online. Don’t you think it’s funny? [Ed – image of Dany Bahar in the meme style of Iraq’s ex-communications minister, Comical Ali] We do. We had a good old giggle. After all, we love a bit of self irony, just as well really. Although it’s funny, this one’s not accurate but then again, why let the facts get in the way of a good story? The inconvenient truth is – surprise, surprise – we have never said that there are no problems at Lotus.

So whilst lots of people obviously feel the need to comment on Lotus’ current situation in the absence of proper facts or evidence, we can’t ignore these particular mistruths any longer even if we would like to, so we have decided to turn a negative into a positive and use this hilarious piece of ‘art’ to set the record straight regarding the status quo at Group Lotus and try to return a little stability to a fast changing situation.

False rumour #1: Dany Bahar is no longer CEO of Group Lotus.
Fact: Rubbish – Dany Bahar still is.

False rumour #2: Dato’ Sri Syed is no longer Managing Director of Proton.
Fact: Again rubbish. He still is.

You can thank good old Tony Fernandes for these two. Don’t take everything he tweets too seriously – perhaps he’s still frustrated about owning Caterham instead of Lotus and the fact that he fights HRT and Marussia instead of Mercedes and Ferrari in F1.

And whilst we’re on the subject of jokes – do you know the latest F1 joke? Mike Gascoyne, Caterham Group’s Chief Technical Officer, has gone missing. Why? He’s looking for the 30 to 40 points he predicted for the last F1 season. Funny.

Speaking of F1: It seems that one special so called ‘independent’ source is at the root of the lion’s share of damaging rumours and misleading stories. The delightful Joe Saward which leads us nicely to….

False rumour #3: Joe Saward is JUST an independent journalist.
Fact: He is an active Director for the Caterham Group.

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.

False rumour #4: Group Lotus is no longer involved in F1.
Fact: Lotus F1 Team and Group Lotus have reshaped their commercial relationship earlier this year. The new governance agreement signifies the continued commitment of Group Lotus to the team and the sport.

Group Lotus’ branding and marketing rights and subsequent activities remain unaffected by the new agreement until at least 2017. Alongside continued branding and title partnership status, Group Lotus is also the exclusive master licensee for all Lotus F1 Team merchandise.

The new agreement was reached following Group Lotus owners Proton providing team owners Genii with a £30m loan which is repayable within three years. In order to secure the loan Genii used 100% of the F1 team’s assets as collateral meaning that under the conditions of the loan agreement Proton have been given full title guarantee to all plant, machinery, show cars, computers, office and the Lotus F1 Team headquarters.

In addition Proton retains the rights to purchase 10% of the F1 team. Another 10% share option will be activated if the team default on their loan obligations with Proton.

Again we leave it to your judgement how ‘bad’ Lotus’ current situation in F1 is. And speaking of bad situations…..

False rumour #5: Group Lotus is going into administration.
Fact: Rubbish. The takeover of our parent company Proton by DRB-HICOM couldn’t have come at a worse time, but up until that point Proton was (and still remains) fully committed to our five year business plan to create jobs and to expand the factory and business. With the takeover process the funding has been restricted and DRB-HICOM is taking time to understand what to do with the business.

DRB-HICOM is currently in the middle of due diligence of Group Lotus and there have been and continue to be positive discussions between Group Lotus senior management and senior management at DRB-HICOM both here in Hethel and in Malaysia. At no point has DRB-HICOM indicated to Group Lotus that it intends to put the company into administration. The over-active rumour mill is seriously damaging our business reputation, image and credibility but it is what it is.

The simple fact is, and we haven’t denied this – Lotus is going through a very difficult phase at the moment but we are showing true fighting spirit every day in trying to keep this vision alive. This is also a fact – no matter what people outside of Lotus may say or tweet or blog.”

And finally..

Last week we put together a satirical piece on Lotus CEO Dany Bahar, we wrote it as a light-hearted parody of the internet meme initiated by Samantha Brick’s article on the downsides of looking pretty.

Perhaps now would be a good time to share it and help lighten the mood..

* * *

‘There are downsides to being this gifted’: why people hate me for being so brilliant

In an EXCLUSIVE fictitious interview with the man himself, Dany revealed what it’s like to be so misunderstood..

“At a recent motor show, I was delighted when a journalist came over and paid me a compliment about my circle of famous friends, rewarding me with an article in his national newspaper right next to a piece about my good friend Swizz Beatz.

This was from a leading journalist – not one of those misguided and uninformed hacks from the UK press, who seem obsessed with how well our cars reflect the vision of some flat-cap wearing engineer called Colin Chapman.

You’re probably thinking ‘what a lovely surprise’ to be on the receiving end of such reverence. But while it’s wonderful to see people recognise my social achievements, it wasn’t a surprise. At least not for me.

You see, throughout my business career, I’ve had people pay me compliments for the cut of my hand-made suits, my superstar good looks and the sparkle I add to even the most humble board room.

Take Ferrari for instance, when I joined, an old guy working out of a small brick house at Fiorano called all the shots. He had no style or charisma and acted like he owned the place.

As Senior Vice-President of Ferrari’s Sales, Marketing and Communications, I single-handedly turned this company into the most desirable automotive brand in the world – all my celebrity friends say so, therefore it must be true.

As reward for my achievements I was showered with untold riches, then asked to head up a small Norfolk-based company in need of some sparkle. And whenever I’ve asked what I’ve done to deserve such treatment, the shareholders of each company have always said the same thing: my good looks, cocky demeanour and wunderkind aura that brightens up their day.

While I’m no Richard Branson, I’m trim, fit and have Sharon Stone on speed dial, and from what I tell myself, I’m gifted and uniquely brilliant. I know how lucky I am. To be me.

But there are downsides to being so brilliant – the main one being that other people seem to hate me for no other reason than I’m better than them.

If you’re a car enthusiast or journalist reading this, I’d hazard that you’ve already formed your own opinion about me — and it won’t be very flattering. For while many opportunities have been offered to me (literally) as a result of my engaging personality and film-star looks, just as many have been wrenched away — usually by those most jealous of my achievements and fearful that I’ll make them look bad.

As Chief Operating Officer for Red Bull, I put in place the groundwork for two world championships, but despite my success, was never asked to jump in the team pool at the Monaco grand prix.

You’d think they would have lifted me on their shoulders and cheered, but I guess people don’t want to hang out with someone more talented than them.

I’m not smug and I’m no fool, but over the years I’ve been ignored by countless colleagues and acquaintances who felt threatened if they were in the same room as me.

Let’s face it, I’m a winner. Not many people can say that.

But when ex-F1 world champions or politicians hang out at my Norfolk crib, all of a sudden I read ill-informed articles in the press saying I’m just some playboy. What do they know? How many of them are on speaking terms with Julia Roberts?

It’s not easy being so brilliant, I spend my days surrounded by people who will never know the taste of Cristal, but you won’t hear me complain nor curse their stupidity.

So now I’m in the headlines again and my bosses at Proton think I’ve made them look foolish. They talk about ‘saving face’ and ‘finding a scapegoat’.  But even if they are right, what have they got to lose?

Don’t they realise? I’m the one with the glittering career at risk..