Former Lotus CEO claims small teams also driving up F1 costs

Patrick Louis with Mansoor Ijaz

Patrick Louis with Mansoor Ijaz

Even the smaller teams are guilty of worsening Formula 1’s growing financial crisis, according to departing Lotus Chief Executive Patrick Louis, who admits that the Enstone team baulked at signing Nico Hulkenberg for 2014 purely for financial reasons.

“The financial situation in Formula 1 is clear and if there is no response, the sport will eventually decay by a shrinking field of starters,” he told the German-language website motorsport-magazin.com.

He said that even the smaller, struggling teams are spending big in order to “create the impression of financial health that is not true”.

For example, Louis said small teams use five-star hotels, which “From a business perspective is absolute nonsense”.

The same teams, he added, are driving up salaries, “A person who was strategically very important for us and was in the salary range of €110,000 a year was lured from us with €220,000.”

Even a worker in the factory, earning in the mid-€30,000 range, was lured from Lotus with a higher salary “from teams that were far behind us in the Championship standings”.

Louis said that the teams have complain about escalating costs, “That they themselves have driven. For me, it’s economic suicide.”

And it’s the rising costs, Louis revealed, that led to the decision to overlook the obvious preferred choice Hulkenberg in favour of Pastor Maldonado, who brought millions to the team in the form of PDVSA backing.

“At some point you have to make a decision and accept that as a team you need to put a budget together,” he explained. “For me, Hulkenberg is an excellent driver. One of the few talents that there are.”

“I’m not saying that we made compromises, but we decided to invest more time in a driver [Maldonado] who to a large extent is comparable with where Romain Grosjean was with us in 2012.

“Grosjean was criticised, we were called completely crazy to keep him, and now the same people are saying that he’s a great driver,” Louis said. (GMM)

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