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Lotus lands new partner as Boullier claims 2014 budget is ‘ring fenced’
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Jan 2014   |  2:41 pm GMT  |  91 comments

Lotus F1 team today announced a new sponsorship deal with Saxo Bank, the long time cycling sponsor putting its toe in the water of F1 for the first time.

The deal means fresh budget for the team, which the owner Gerard Lopez admitted recently was over €100 million in debt. It also gives some bilateral marketing benefits with the cycling team which competes for top honours in cycling’s blue riband events like the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

After Lopez’ interview in Auto Motor und Sport last week in which he admitted the debts but said that the team would be funded for 2014, team principal Eric Boullier told Autosport that his budget for the season had been secured and he has privately told colleagues and fellow team owners that it is “ring fenced”, meaning that it is secured for the year. If this proves over time to be the case it will be a relief to employees and suppliers alike.

After the difficulties of 2013, which saw employees regularly going unpaid and driver Kimi Raikkonen walking out with two races to go due to non-payment of his salary, Boullier is hoping to spend what he has on his team and focus on competing for top results again.

“The team is in good shape now definitely with some guarantees over the operational finance needs,” he told Autosport. “I think now at least for 2014 and a little bit beyond, the team now can stabilize. We can bring a little bit of quietness, so not being as intense but still performing.”

Lotus will miss the first test in Jerez next week, but will be present at both the Bahrain tests. Although the team began work early on the 2014 hybrid turbo car, it also pushed hard in the closing stages of the 2013 season, securing a sequence of podium finishes in the final races – like the second place in Austin (pictured above), which have clearly added a few weeks to the development time for the 2014 chassis, along with the financial uncertainties.

* Meanwhile Caterham is set to reveal its drivers at a preseason launch event in Leafield tomorrow. After that the first of the car launches takes place with McLaren revealing its challenger online on Friday, Ferrari launching its car on Saturday in Maranello, then Sauber on Sunday. Toro Rosso, Mercedes and Red Bull will all be revealed next week ahead of the first F1 test of the hybrid turbo era at Jerez from 28-31 January.

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  1. Random 79 says:

    (Main photo)

    Lotus’ final answer to Mansoor Ijaz and the Quantum deal.

    1. MISTER says:

      LOL. Surely Boullier would know what that sign is used for, as the team is based in UK.. Poor PR from Lotus, but a cracker for us :))

    2. WSH says:

      Indeed, fitting image!

    3. Glennb says:

      Lotus’ response to KR asking for his payment.

      1. Vin S says:

        GlennB, Lotus have lost their position to ‘respond’ to their unpaid employee!
        Also, Kimi isn’t asking for his pay because he has ‘earned’ it through great skills in 2013.

        Lotus should be paying their staff contractually without being ‘asked’ to be paid in real world. Employees join a company to work, not beg for whats rightfully & lawfully theirs.

  2. Random 79 says:

    You do have a knack for choosing your photos James ;)

  3. Andrew Carter says:

    Lol, excellent choice of picture!

    1. Sean Thompson says:

      I think that is a message to Kimi.

      1. Vin S says:

        Nope, thats a message to themselves since Kimi walked over their faces before Austin arrived.

        One cannot send a message if it’s gonna be ‘returned to sender’ lol.

  4. jeffrey says:

    James, about that picture… Are they taking the ****, or don’t they know that this is a very rude gesture in many countries??

    1. Luis Rodrigues says:

      Jeffrey, many countries? Are you refering to England, Scotland, Wales and possibly a few of the old British colonies? In many countries that gesture is even used in sign language – means 2 in a few countries, including the US and means the letter V in Portugal.

      But anyway, yes James, the choice of picture could have been better ;-)

      1. Random 79 says:

        You can add Australia to that list…although apparently it’s also used in Australian sign language (I’ll let you work out the meaning ;) )

        For myself I think the choice of picture could not have been better. True it’s probably not PC, but I think it’s good that James has a sense of humour and the balls to show it :)

      2. Jack Flash (Aust) says:

        Well, given that the genesis of that finger gesture was the English archers of 15th Century showing their French opponents at a distance that they still posses their bow fingers (French amputated bow fingers of captured English bowmen); then the fact that Boullier and Grosjean are using it is quite funny, even though they were using it in signifying “2″, not a “F*** you”. Makes a great pic though.

      3. Aaron says:

        Actually, there is no historical evidence that ‘bowfigers’ is the source of the Vs. It was a -5 answer in QI a few series ago.
        But good try…

      4. Tim says:

        Supposedly it meant the archers could still ‘pluck yew’ , at least that’s what a man down the pub said :-)

      5. Tim says:

        In many countries that gesture is even used in sign language ….

        It’s used for sign language here in the UK also ;-)

      6. jeffrey says:

        I believe that showing the back of the hand is also offensive in many eastern european countries, the equivalent of showing the middle finger.

    2. NickH says:

      It’s pretty obvious the gesture is referring to Grosjean’s 2nd place in Austin

  5. Spyros says:

    Ah yes second place in Austin, what’s what the picture means.

    Good. For a moment there I was really confused… and I’m not even British!

  6. Andrew M says:

    Well, if Lopez says that they’ve got their budget 100% secure for 2014 I can’t think of any reason not to believe him.

    1. mark says:


    2. MikeyB says:

      Perhaps the money is ‘ring-fenced’ to keep it safe from Kimi’s lawyers?

    3. Kimi4WDC says:

      My thoughts exactly.

    4. AMSG says:

      More playing the media with smoke and mirrors. Or trying to get Renault to ship over the engines (cheque will follow, honest….) Reminds me of old Tom in arrow’s final days.

    5. Fireman says:

      Spot on. Who believes these guys anymore anyway?

  7. jim says:

    How much is the deal worth?
    Has the money owed to suppliers/employees been paid off?
    If not, when will it be?

    1. Frederik says:

      Get off the chat Kimi!

      1. Random 79 says:

        Give him a break – it’s not like he can afford a phone call now ;)

    2. C Lin says:

      Exactly. Have David been paid?

  8. Joe B says:

    This is good news for the team and the fans. I hope they’re quick and consistent enough for Grosjean to maintain/improve his form, he could be a major talent with the right car. And that the employees are getting paid is always good to hear!

    Nice choice of pic, btw. That for the second place or the naysayers? :D

    1. Stephen says:

      I think they’re planning to have it framed and present it to Pator Maldonado at the end of next season :-)

  9. Andrew says:

    Until I see the Saxo Banks’s logos on the car I will this latest statement from Lotus with a pinch of salt.

  10. Carl Craven says:

    What are those two frenchmen doing with their fingers?

    1. Sasidharan says:

      They are showing the Englishmen that. A bit of reversal of history ;)

  11. Sri says:

    “..and driver Kimi Raikkonen walking out with two races to go due to non-payment of his salary”

    Can anyone confirm if this statement is true? Even BBC’s Andrew Benson said the same thing other day. But I do not rely on Andrew’s reports as he usually mixes his opinion with news. However, James is also citing the same reason for Kimi missing the last two races, so was there any official release saying the same that I had missed? As far as we know, Kimi had a back-surgery and therefore he missed the last two races (official news). Of course reading anything beyond that, due to other situations is speculation (even if it is actually true).

    1. Stickymart says:

      I heard somewhere (and I can’t remember where) that he could have waited until the end of the season for surgery (on medical grounds)but chose not to. I’m pretty sure a lack of pay eased his choice somewhat. To be honest if I was doing a job which was pretty stressful on the back and wasn’t being paid for it, I would probably choose not to rish it as well.

      1. Stickymart says:

        Or even risk it….!

    2. Timmay says:

      Not being paid was an ‘out’ for him to get his elective back surgery as early as possible to maximise his rehabilitation. If he had been paid he could have done the elective surgery the day after the final race. But with Ferrari contract in pocket – he made the right call.

    3. Quade says:

      I’d be inclined to believe that Kimi had walked out more over pay than over back pain; the sums and period they were owed for were vast.

      Andrew Benson has been so since he was the defunct 606 F1 forum mod. I’ll go with James.

    4. Andrew Carter says:

      Officially it was for back surgery, which he had, but it was at Ferrari’s behest in case they wanted him at his best for the December tyre test and to give him as much time as possible to recover for preseason testing. We can take it that he went through with this because he wasn’t getting paid, otherwise I can’t see Kimi skipping out on racing.

    5. JEZ Playense says:

      Contract boiler plate probably requires an operation to avoid being in breach despite never being paid…

    6. Fireman says:

      That’s just how British press works. Plant controversy when it isn’t there.

  12. RodgerT says:

    Glad to hear it as the more competitive teams the better. Although it could be a case of, enough but too late, as there seems to have been some “brain drain” when finances weren’t looking too good.

  13. Gudien says:

    This story, James, shows one of the many facets of why Formula One is a great sport. It’s not just about the drivers.

    I sincerely hope Eric Boullier is correct for the sake of the team, and for the sake of F-1 in general. Boullier’s management skills must surely have been tested over the course of 2013.

    Also team owner Lopez impresses me when he is willing to take such losses and continue. If I were him I’d have ‘pulled the pin’ long ago.

    1. Dimitar Kadrinski says:

      Well, it is 100 millions in debt… it does not mean loss. The loss if any could be less or more. Then again a 100 millions for someone like Lopez is not that much and the exposure he gets from F1 surely pays it off.

      1. Micky D says:

        If Infiniti has had a billion in advertising worth, then a mere £140 mill for Genii-Lotus seems pretty good value.

        Yes, my tongue is firmly in my cheek regarding the former!

      2. Joel says:

        “Infiniti has had a billion in advertising worth”

        With that standard, Saxo Bank already got their money’s worth :)

    2. greg says:

      I think the prize money for last year doesn’t get paid to the following year, so there is some good money to come which makes the team more saleable as that is their plan.

  14. goferet says:

    At last some good news for the Lotus team as Saxo Bank gets behind their cause and yes this couldn’t have come at a better time as the team is very much in the Red.

    Now the only thing left to do is for the team to go out there and perform on track, which also would go a long way in slashing their debt.

    As for Kimi, he better hopes he doesn’t regret getting impatient and leaving the team for it’s always better to eat vegetables in a family were there’s a nice environment than feast on the finest meat in a family were their is constant turmoil (and PR work)


    Not particularly looking forward to the car launches as gone are the days when F1 was all about pretty cars e.g. 2008 and 2004 seasons >>> to mention but a few.

    1. MelB says:

      The Lotus family threw vegetables at him towards the end of last season…

      1. Joel says:

        One such “vegetable” fell on the track right infront of Vettel while racing the previous season :)

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      This is a very optimistic take on things. I’d be very surprised if Saxo Bank deal even worth 7 million.

      With regards to engine cost and Lotuses selective repayment policy. I don’t see how they can present enough security on actually being paid to their various partners.

      As soon as they saw how good Kimi was performing in 2012, their management team should have capitalized on that success instead they wasted it as amateurs and further damaged image of the team. Pure incompetence, while their engineering team was doing miracles.

      Why on earth would anyone sponsor or partner a team that is run by headless chickens. Grosjean should have been replaced in 2012 for someone who whole team would not have to come up with excuses of potential improvement. 2013 was again half work done by the Frenchman.

  15. Laurence H says:

    “We can bring a little bit of quietness, so not being as intense but still performing.”

    This suggests they don’t have the budget to compete as they have done the last two years. A worrying phrase. Who knows where anyone will start off performance wise though…

  16. Goggomobil says:

    The legends say, beware of a dog who does not bark,it seems Lotus bark to much lately with a lot of p*ss and hot wind.
    Boullier with a smile like a split watermelon one must ignore,instead a closer look at Grosjean tells a true story.

  17. Have any of the employees or suppliers confired that their obligations have been discharged? Thought that the reasn for Kimi leaving was to have back surgery and be ready for 2014???

    Wouldn’t ya think that Lopez should have stepped up to the plate and honored all obligations, especially to employees/drivers and all suppliers with his comments that they had been bankrolling the team?

    Makes it even easier to understand that non-payment of millions owed would support the reasoning to take sick leave, but will we ever know for sure? And, if it were known, what difference would it make?

  18. emm says:

    i think its a sign to some f1 fans. just watch the racing and stop sniping.

  19. John M says:

    I’m glad they got their funding in place.

    For me, though, the big question is did they have enough funding in place over the course of 2013 to do proper development on the 2014 car?

    It’s all well and good to be able to pay the bills from here on, but if the 2014 car suffered from lack of development funds, they will be well behind the eight-ball.

    1. Paul D says:

      Completely agree – this is the key question.

      Restricted funds in 2013 (when they were still pushing development of the 2013 car into the later part of the season) surely means the 2014 car must be been comprimised to some extent.

  20. BW says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but if Lotus had 110M debt (and I guess it was GBP, not EUR!), of which about 80M was the internal debt with Genii, that would leave current debt of about 30M. And they expect to receive some 60M GBP prize for their WCC place, which would leave quite an surplus…

    1. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Which would be needed for operating cashflow for their business until the next year’s payment from Mr E.

    2. Elie says:

      It was £119m and whilst 80 was Genii “marketing”. That leaves £39. Their earnings were approx $28m (£20m) last year. Even if its £30m it wont clear their debts.
      They get €30m from PDVSA and several more from others, merchandising etc to go racing. It will be interesting to know how much this deal with Saxo is worth.

      1. BW says:

        /Their earnings were approx $28m /

        If you meant prize money, then you’re deeply wrong. It’s over $70m.

      2. Elie says:

        I read it on Gp1 website. Only the top teams get around 100m mark each with Ferrari a but more. Given that 50% of the earnings are split 500million – it does not leave much for the other 6 teams.(11th gets 0 now)

        If you have a link or sources to where you read it please share otherwise you cannot say “your deeply wrong”

      3. BW says:

        Please start with this:

        I also remember Christian Sylt writing that this year’s prize budget would be about $750m in total.

    3. Anil Parmar says:

      They already spent that last year..

  21. Bart says:

    James, is the choice of photo accidental? Don’t think so. Great sense of humour!
    Cheers, Bart

  22. Chromatic says:

    You’ve got to be pretty brave / reckless to tie yourself up with this mob of …{I dare not finish}
    One does not expect a bank to be either of those things. Therefore, hard to make sense of this…..

  23. hippyneil says:

    Pic: Lotus launch their new “invisible cigars”

  24. Troy says:

    Re the Mclaren launch this Friday. Seems they have launched their 2014 supporter clothing/merchandise and interestingly only signage is McLaren, Mobil and Mercedes. Nothing in way of sponsor replacing Vodafone. Would be strange to launch the 2014 clothing line before the car if there was a new sponsor expected to be revealed with the car launch

  25. Quade says:

    It’s great news from Lotus. Lets hope that they can put on another great show this season and resolve their sponsorship and debt issues before the end.

    As for the funny pic, Grosjean’s expression is of the downright rude kind, so you can easily imagine a balloon beside him that say’s %$£%*!!!

  26. Rockie says:

    This is good news for Team Lotus happy they are getting their finances sorted as this would lead to more competition up front looking forward to seeing Lotus tame Pastor and also whether Grosjean continues his rise and change in fortunes!

  27. Bryce says:

    Great news. Hope we get to see a single digit version of the photo soon.

  28. Frederik says:

    Owners of Saxo has stated to Danish media that this is a small dip which will give them a couple of hospitality events etc – nothing huge… Its a very (very) far cry from securing the overall budget. I think 2014 looks bleak for Lotus which is kinda sad given the impressive results of late – RG is far from proven (1/2 season of proper driving doesnt cut it) and Maldonado couldnt even match his rookie team mate at Williams – I hope Im wrong..

  29. Carl Michael says:

    There was an interview a little while ago where the team acknowledged the debt but since the debt is almost all to the Genii group, it doesn’t really make any difference. They are hardly going to wind up their own team.

  30. Craig in Manila says:

    I think the headline should be :

    “Valsecchi out. Lotus signs Sorensen as test/reserve driver and he brings Saxo Bank money with him”

      1. bearforce1 says:

        I shouldn’t laugh but that was too funny….

    1. C Lin says:

      Or “David v Saxo $”?

    2. Kimi4WDC says:

      Brings money, is a strong word. Unless we talking in DKK, couple of digits might be missing from your usual big sponsor pay out.

      Might pay for the pre-season testing and buy them more time.

  31. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    I wouldn’t read too much into Lotus’s debt position. As James pointed out, most of the debt is to the team’s owners. A lot of investors will inject debt rather than capital for better taxation treatment.

    However, the real question journalists should be asking is how Genii is funding their debt injection into the team. Not many people (including billionaires) have that much cash sitting around. Most of it is tied up in company stock. So whats to say that Genii, not Lotus, aren’t on the verge of bankruptcy?

  32. janis1207 says:

    we all know how careful one must be when reading this kind of statements.
    So, funding has been secured. Ok, but at what level? To compete with the big boys, or to survive somewhere in the midfield?

  33. John Turner says:

    Please for Lotus, as they’ve done a Great job in the Last couple of Years to Catch Up with the Top Teams, even with Budget issues Hanging over them.

    *McLaren Launch event on Friday, will Whitmarsh be there?

    1. James Allen says:

      I very much doubt it

  34. Elie says:

    No up yours Eric and Romain .. Lol. Whats up with this pic!..? .

    Its good to see Saxo add a little sponsorship to Lotus but Ive not seen any indications that its substantial and wont eliminate Lotus financial problems – only enough to help a little get them racing this year. Lets hope Lotus find some serious investors this year..Either way Im not following Lotus because I dont see Grosjean as the next best thing. Cant say that Maldonado does either But somehow his win in Spain ’12 still in that Williams still resonates a little more.

  35. Richard Piers says:

    Even more entertaining when you know the history of the V sign.
    It was given by the English long bow men to the French, who were given a bashing, after the battle of Agincourt. When captured by the French they had their string fingers cut off by their captors hence the sign by the victors !

  36. mk17 says:

    Sorry if I’ve missed this, but does anyone know if Kimi has actually been paid for 2013?


    1. Vin S says:

      Kimi hasn’t been paid, thats confirmed by Kimi himself.

      Lotus keep lying that they have paid Kimi, in July 2013 & onwards.

      So till Kimi says anything on the matter, it’s reasonable to realize Lotus are still finsncially screwing their Top Performing Employee (ex)!

    2. Random 79 says:

      I think he’s accepted a partial payment.

  37. Paul D says:

    I like Team Enstone, a great engineering outfit… However I fear the financial troubles and the loss of Kimi will send them back to a 1999 – 2001 or 2007 – 2009 type slump.

    History shows them to be a very cyclical team in terms of performance.

  38. Radley Hirsch says:

    I still don’t really understand this whole Renault/ Lotus deal. Renault sold the naming & sponsor rights to Genii Capital who was trying to develop the Lotus name/ brand for importing Chinese cars (which didn’t work out). Why don’t Renault say the hell with this and take their team back?


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