The curious situation surrounding the Quantum Group and its investment in Lotus F1 Team has become a little clearer with comments made by its leader Mansoor Ijaz, to our partner site in France, F1i.
Angered by an article the site had written about him not being a serious businessman due to his involvement in a semi-nude women’s wrestling video and the non-appearance of funds in the bank account of Lotus’ owner, Luxembourg based Genii Capital, Ijaz contacted the site to explain the position, explaining away the video and claiming that the money had been transferred, but had not been allowed to pass through to Genii,
“The fact is that Luxembourg isn’t considered as irreproachable by the US banking system, ” he said. ” That explains why we have had to review the operation and structure the financing differently. The money has been sent back to us and we have to make the payments using a different mechanism. That is not the work of a moment.
“We never wanted to communicate the deal in June (when Genii and Lotus announced it), it’s Gerard Lopez (Genii boss) who took that initiative. But our investment is real and you (media) will all look bad with all your insinuations, when the deal is concluded with Lotus.”
The F1 paddock is not sure what to make of Ijaz, whose Quantum fund features money from Brunei among other investors. A Google search of him brings up some surprising past experiences. But that wouldn’t make him unusual in the F1 paddock.
He was at the races in Abu Dhabi and Austin and has, on both occasions, been allowed a platform to speak to media by the Lotus F1 Team management, which is interesting.
Our colleagues at F1i believe that the deal is €120 million for a 35% stake in the Lotus F1 team, which values the business at €400 million. They say that, currently, Lopez and his partner Eric Lux are putting in €8 million per month to fund the team.
It’s certainly the case that the team has lost quite a few staff lately (a number to Caterham in particular) amid rumours that monthly pay checks have not been paid.
Kimi Raikkonen went public that he had not been paid and he has chosen to have back surgery rather than compete in the final two rounds.
Heikki Kovalainen was drafted in for the US and Brazilian GPs and will be hoping for a better run this weekend than in Austin, where he was 15th.
Lotus needs the points in a tight championship battle with Ferrari and Mercedes.
Although Quantum continue to say that Nico Hulkenberg is the name they would like to see in the second Lotus car next season, paddock rumour continues to place him at Force India for 2014. Hulkenberg was considered for the seat for the final two races and could have got the release form from Sauber, as they had admitted earlier in the season that they had not been able to pay him so he was free to moveis something came up.
However Hulkenberg wisely concluded that, with his reputation and standing greatly enhanced by his performances this year, he was on a hiding to nothing going up against an in-form Romain Grosjean in an unfamiliar car for two races, when he could qualify a Sauber in the top five on the grid anyway.
Pastor Maldonado is the likely candidate for the seat; he has left Williams and is ready for the move. However his backers, Venezuelan oil company PDVSA is understood to be asking questions about whether their $30 million will be going towards Lotus’ 2014 racing programme or paying off debts from 2013. Maldonado has been conspicuously making the point this weekend that Sauber remains an attractive alternative.
There is a potential clash with French oil company Total, an existing Lotus partner, but they are believed to be gravitating towards their relationship with Red Bull in any case.