Lotus: We are well positioned but we need a sponsor who pays really well

Gerard Lopez and Eric Boullier in Belgium

Gerard Lopez and Eric Boullier in Belgium

Speaking to journalists during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend, Lotus team co-owner Gerard Lopez played down reports of financial trouble at the Enstone outfit, but admits that a well meaning long term sponsor would be welcome.

Reportedly in debt to the tune of € 120 million, behind in payments to lead driver Kimi Raikkonen and with the new Infinity Racing investment in doubt, Lopez insisted at Spa-Francorchamps that Lotus is in fact in good health.

Indeed, some believe the team’s debt is actually just € 28 million.

“It is € 120 million,” Lopez confirmed to Auto Motor und Sport, “but four-fifths of it we owe to ourselves, to Genii, because we do not sponsor the team but finance it through loans.”

Lotus crew service Kimi Raikkonen during the Belgian GP

Lotus crew service Kimi Raikkonen during the Belgian GP

He said, therefore, that Genii is not going to urgently demand that Lotus pays it back, “First of all I want to ensure that the team continues to be well funded. Whether we get the money back now or later, we have to see.”

“We continue to look for partners to join the team. It’s not about getting money back quickly now.”

Lopez insisted that this is precisely why Lotus does not have a title sponsor at the moment.

“We could have signed a cheap contract,” he said. “But we think from the performance point of view, we need a sponsor who pays really well.

“We don’t want to sign something now for three, four, five years that we will regret later.”

On the face of it, rumours aside, Lotus seems to be in good financial health. Raikkonen, although upset that his wages are being paid late, is still fighting for the title, while Lotus is pushing hard with development of the 2013 and 2014 cars.

Kimi Raikkonen is a big asset to the team

Kimi Raikkonen is a big asset to the team

“We are currently working on a [2013] car with a longer wheelbase,” Lopez revealed. “I think we are really well positioned.”

Losing Raikkonen, however, would be a major blow. The Finn is at the centre of the 2014 ‘silly season’, but Lopez would not be drawn on whether the touted moves to Red Bull or Ferrari are likely, or simply a negotiating tactic.

“I don’t know,” he insisted. “I don’t know whether he would actually go together with Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso. No idea.”

But if Lotus does lose its lead driver, Lopez insists that Lotus will continue to thrive,  “When you have a very good car, you always have options in Formula 1. We are very close to Renault and so we know we will have a competitive car next year too. So there will always be drivers who want to be with us.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • adri

    The F1 should allow the tobacco and alcohol companies to come back , people still drinking and smoking even more than before , when this companies used to sponsor some of the F1 teams. and decent teams like Lotus , Williams , Force India , Sauber , etc. wouldn’t be in trouble and real and not paid drivers will be driving those cars , isn’t ?

  • Boycottthebull

    If you get a good high paying sponsor the money pit that is Gimme Gimme Kimi will put his hand out for even more and still make false claims he still hasnt been paid when he has. Grosjean has proven quicker in qualifying for way less money let him lead the team and get the Hulk to pair up with him. I hope Kimis greed leaves him out in the cold without a drive. He isnt worth the money and the endless talk. He wants all the cash but then doesnt want to do the hard promotion work which is all part of the big bucks. Greedy and lazy. And the speculation is getting so tiresome I hope he looses his seat so I dont have to hear about him all next year.

  • Eevel

    Great thinking – his commanding performance at Spa and an amazing eighth place finish shows he’s ready to lead the team.
    Afterall he’s been second in the championship up until this point and he has a huge fanbase following him too.
    Oh no sorry, that would be Kimi, the worthy lead driver who’s actually able to finish a race without ploughing his car into his fellow competitors.
    I don’t think even think Marussia should be led by a driver as wreckless and crash-prone as The Smiling Fool.