Lotus F1 boss Gerard Lopez has sold a 35% stake in the team to Infinity Racing, a consortium of investors with US and Middle Eastern backgrounds.
The team hopes that this investment will give the team the financial boost it needs to challenge current top dogs Red Bull and Ferrari for wins and championships.
Lopez’ Genii Capital concern will continue to hold a controlling stake of 65% in the team and Lopez remains as Chairman and his partner Eric Lux as a director.
Infinity’s chairman is Mansoor Ijaz and the deputy chairman is Suhail Al Dhaheri, CEO of the Abu Dhabi based Al Manhal Group, whose stated mission is “to establish itself as the premiere private 100% UAE company in the energy sector by developing, promoting and participating in energy and technology related projects.”
According to the statement from Lotus this afternoon,
“Infinity Racing is an investment consortium whose special purpose vehicle is comprised of private investors that include an American hedge fund manager, an Abu Dhabi-based multinational business group and royal family interests of a major oil producing nation.”
Lotus has been punching above its weight for the last two seasons under Lopez’ management, with victories in Abu Dhabi last year and Melbourne this year. Kimi Raikkonen finished third in last year’s world championship and is similarly well placed this year. However stories of cash flow issues are never far from the surface, some placed by rivals, other internal leaks.
According to a recent Bloomberg report, Lopez is about to float Wix, an Israeli based software company which makes easy to set up websites, on the Stock Market in a listing valuing the company at around $500 million.
This new investment is clearly strategic, opening the team to new markets in the US and the Middle East and to sponsorships. Sponsorship has been one area where the Genii Group has not been as successful as it had hoped to be.
“As Lotus F1 Team results have continued to improve every year, we have been waiting for the right investor who will help make the jump to the top spot in the Constructors’ Championship,” said Lux. “In Infinity Racing, we have found a partner with the right connections in addition to technological expertise and a global reach in major markets with key sponsors to achieve this goal.”
The team suffered the shock resignation of technical director James Allison recently, replaced by Nick Chester.
The team is negotiating for a supply of the new small capacity hybrid turbo F1 engines for 2014 with Renault its existing partner. The Infinity investment therefore comes at an important moment in the team’s development.