The re-named Lotus Renault GP team has unveiled its livery for the 2011 season, displaying the new paintjob on the team’s 2010 challenger. Their new car, the R31, will be launched in Valencia on January 31st.

And as the war of words between the newly-named squad and Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus continues Clive Chapman – son of Lotus founder Colin – weighed in to the spat today by stating that “Lotus racing cars have black and gold for far longer than they’ve been green and yellow.”

Credit: Octane Photos

Vitaly Petrov, who recently signed a contract extension with the team, was present for the unveiling at the Autosport Show in Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre. Also present was Jean Alesi, who drove for the Enstone-based team between 1996 and 1997 when they ran as Benetton and is now a Lotus ambassador, and current team principal Eric Boullier.

As suggested by promo mock-ups released last month the car will run in the famous black and gold livery made famous by Team Lotus in the seventies and eighties. Group Lotus – the Malaysian-based company who own the rights to Lotus’ road car heritage – recently invested heavily in the Renault team and became name sponsors of the 2005-2006 world champions. As such they have elected to run a livery from Colin Chapman’s team’s past.

However there is some controversy over the use of these colours. The livery will immediately remind anyone who remembers the classic JPS Lotus cars of the cigarette brand, which remains on sale today. Team Lotus (henceforth to be known as Green Lotus) boss Tony Fernandes suggested that he’d been warned off the black and gold idea for his team’s paint scheme for this very reason, with members of the FIA suggesting that such a livery could be considered subliminal tobacco advertising similar to Ferrari’s recent use of barcodes and white squares to allegedly continuing advertising Marlboro.

So what do you think of Lotus Renault GP’s new livery? A good looking re-imagining of an iconic livery or a hollow gesture that might remind people of a fag brand? And what about Clive Chapman’s comments? Have your say in the comments below.

Thanks to Octane Photos for all shots from the Lotus Renault GP livery launch.