Lotus F1 boss Gerard Lopez has set his team a bold objective for this season: finish in the top three of the Constructors’ championship table this year and end the season on the same level as the best teams.
Last season Lotus ended up fourth after a strong year, particularly with Kimi Raikkonen, who was third in the Drivers’ standings ahead of both McLaren drivers.
But if their other driver Romain Grosjean had been more consistent they might have gone some way towards bridging the 75 point gap to McLaren. The Frenchman scored just 96 points compared to his team mate’s 207.
But Lopez, who owns the team 100% via his Genii Capital investment company, told Gazzetta dello Sport that the team proved several things in 2012,
“The quality of the drivers; the speed of Grosjean; the development push, which meant that we arrived at the last race in our best shape; the confirmation that for the second year in a row we were able to build a competitive car. If we can optimise these four things we’ll be at 100%.”
At the launch of the E20 in February last year Lopez said the objective was, “to bring the car up to the front of the pack, probably trying to aim for fourth as a reasonable goal for this season.”
Lopez is proud of the performance Raikkonen put in last year, particularly as many people told him that the Finn would be unmotivated,
“That makes me smile,” he said. “I was sure it would be like this, Raikkonen put in a great work load to compliment his talent and the results are the fruit of that. Here he feels like he is being used for what’s most important and for the rest of the time he is free. He’s found a balance. I speak to him every week and he feels good. He has enthusiasm and desire. I want drivers, not robots.”
As for Grosjean, Lopez defends his driver whose wildness led to him sitting out the Italian Grand Prix after a ban was imposed, but adds, “There were other drivers who had more reprimands than him..but he paid the price for the others. However he showed he’s quick. I’m expecting a lot from him this year.”
The final note is on the rumours around Lopez wanting to sell the team. He says, “We (Genii Capital) won it 100%. But we’ve always said that if there are any investors who want to get involved with shares, we are ready. But I have no intention of selling the team, because it’s a fantastic way to develop our business. With the sponsors we talk not only about their place on the car, but also about wider business activities.”