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Lotus F1 boss Lopez opens up on financial problems: £114 million of debt
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Jan 2014   |  6:35 pm GMT  |  199 comments

Amid increasing rumours about the financial viability of the Lotus F1 team, the team’s owner (via his Genii Capital concern), Gerard Lopez, has confirmed the team’s significant debt and spelled out that the investment discussions with the mysterious Quantum Motorsport group are dead. He added that Kimi Raikkonen, who walked out on the team two races from the end of the season, had “got part of his salary, and he will get the rest.”

Speaking to Michael Schmidt, from leading German motorsport magazine Auto Motor und Sport, Lopez confirms that the team’s debt is £114 million, of which £80 million is debt owed by the team to Genii. With the failure of the talks with Quantum at the end of 2013, despite Genii and Lotus allowing them to go public and speak to the media via the group’s figurehead Mansoor Ijaz, Genii once again had to fund the shortfall in budget.


“The budget gap from last season was again covered by us, ” he said. “The Quantum money never arrived. We have now killed the talks. For 2014, we will have at our disposal our new sponsor PDVSA’s budget. We will not generate any new debt. Genii is still 98 percent owned by us.” [The remaining 2% is owned by Andrew Ruhan who has placed one of his men, Matthew Carter, at Enstone as the new CEO of the F1 team, replacing Genii’s Patrick Louis.]

“We have around 114 million pounds of debt,” added Lopez. “Of which more than £80 million debt is with ourselves (Genii). Why would we demand the repayment of these (internal) debts? That makes no sense. We reconciled the money as marketing expenses. At the moment, it is important that the team goes forward.”

Asked about a “brain drain” of engineers away from Lotus over the winter, Lopez said that the team had gone down by 80 people but has managed to recruit new engineers from many of his rival teams,

“Last year, we worked on three projects simultaneously. Overall, we had 580 people. Now we concentrate on the 2014 car and therefore the workforce came down to around 500. We have lost some engineers to the competition. But we got about five new engineers from them; from Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes.

“This is the carousel of Formula 1. It operates according to the Darwinian principle, ‘Survival of the Fittest’ Of course, in this way ideas migrate to the competition, but we learn from our new recruits too, what’s going on with the others.”

Asked why the Renault engine deal had not yet been announced, Lopez said that the team has been working on collaborations on hybrid solutions taking it beyond a simple customer engine supply deal and this had complicated and delayed the agreement and negotiations between them. He did not offer any time frame for this to be resolved.


There are also observations on the driver pairing of Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Lopez believes that Grosjean is now one of the top four drivers in F1, while he argues that Maldonado can take the same journey as Grosjean and turn his mercurial speed into a consistent force,

“Two years ago I would have said , the pairing is quick, but explosive. Today it is different. Romain is for me one of the four fastest drivers, maybe even three. He is now strong in the head.

“Pastor must still take that last step. He is super fast. We know him very well. Pastor knows our team boss Eric Boullier from six years ago when he was manager of DAMS. Pastor must now go through the same phase as Romain. He needs to learn that a Grand Prix does not consist of a few fast laps, but of an entire weekend. He needs to control his speed better.”

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1

Many years ago, Net sports activities book betting was risky.

Gene Wojciechowski’s ode to college football is a great read.

During matches rush for football tickets goes beyond any margin, and it becomes tough for the organisers to handle that.

2

lotus and geni capital if yu dont have money sold it to arab man yu are a beglar lotus

3

Give us some figures to compare with other teams, so we can establish whether this really is a lot or not. Nobody can imagine how much 114m untill they have compared it with something else.

4

Note to Gerard Lopez: If you own 100% of the equity of a company, and you give the company Eur 100 million to plug an annual Eur 30 million cash flow deficit, that 100 million is called “equity”, not “debt”.

5

I can’t believe the great Jackie Stewart is mixed up with these Bozos, except that I know Jackie Stewart and he will do anything for a buck(or a Pound or a Euro)

6

Ciaron Pilbeam, Chief Engineer is the latest to leave today… going to McLaren

7

Seem to remember a big title-sponsorship deal with Honeywell falling through and the end of 2012, not to mention Lotus Cars pulling out a few years ago. There must be something else going on behind the scenes because they really can’t seem to book a regular sponsor at the moment, Burn and Avanade aside.

8

In any other business sector, accumulating debts of around 75% of revenues in 3 seasons (after apparently buying said business from the previous owners for 1 pound) would be taken as a sign of fundamentally bad business practice. I am amazed that Lotus F1 still exists given that any objective view based on financials would conclude that it is not viable. When are they going to match the expenditure to the revenues?

9

It does not sound too promising for Lotus in 2014.

I don’t understand the situation with regards to the engine they will run. I am not sure how much each of the three types of engine will differ. I would assume that a car designed around a particular power plan won’t be as performant should a late switch become a reality. Brawn done that and did not fare too badly for it. I would not be upset if Lotus achieved the same, nor would I be if they do it with their “present” engine partner.

Romain can be fast no doubts. Top 3 seems a bit much. Lets see how he reacts to being the lead driver this season. I am pro Lotus and Grosjean for sure, but not exclusively, and I hope the coming season won’t be as bad for them as it may look now. Marc

10

I find it very odd that any “fan” would care if a team is paying their employees or not. The bottom line is, Lotus has been a great team these last few season, and everyone better be concerned that they make it in the long run. The majority of the field is in the same trouble as they are.

11

I always told this Lotus reincarnation was very transient thing.

12

Yes yes yes Mr Lopez, Grosjean is the top 3 fastest driver & will bring alot of WCC points for you in 2014 plus the $$$ you are going to get from Pastor.

13

616 is believed by some to have been the originalNumber of the Beast in the Book of Revelation in theChristian Bible.[1] Different early versions of the Book of Revelation gave different numbers, and 666 had been widely accepted as the original number. In 2005, however, a fragment of papyrus 115 was revealed, containing the earliest known version of that part of the Book of Revelation discussing the Number of the Beast. It gave the number as 616, suggesting that this may have been the original.

I can’t believe this is F1 relevant. Thanks Ferrari!

14

Sad all this talk of divers does not mean anything int the end, Lotus will go down they have been bleeding to long .

15

Lotus have made massive strides over the past 2 years, but it’s clear they’ve been living above their means.

Sad but since the banning of tobacco sponsorship the funding just isn’t there anymore and F1 really does need to cut it’s cloth accordingly via a budget cap.

I’ve always been against a budget cap, but at this rate we’ll have 3 teams on the grid in 5 years time and it’s just not sustainable. Action needs to be taken.

16

I’m a broken record on this issue. Tobacco advertising should never have been banned. It makes no difference anyhow.

17

they banned tobacco but force India is filled with alcohol from nose to tail… scotch whisky vodka beer..

18

I dont know if it was just a motivation issue with Kimi, but the last half of 2013 Romain was the faster of the lotus Drivers.

The last handful of races Romain was the only driver (for me) who actually kept up with Vettel. Taking into account that the Redbull was a better package, this shows that Romain has the capability to not only win a couple of races, but who knows, if that Lotus hits the sweet spot there could be a serious championship campaign.

19

Of course it’s a motivation issue with Kimi. That’s his problem. If he just doesn’t feel like it, or he’s a bit hungover, or a bit tired. I’m being facetious (I hope) but he has at times not cared about his obligations to his team. Ferrari (who were paying him around $50 million) in 2009 is an example where he just stopped caring. If Alonso bests him frequently enough, it will happen again and Ferrari will look stupid for having allowed it.

20

Unless we talking about “last half of 2013” as in Indian GP when Kimi’s tyres were worn, I find you comment wishful at best.

21

Tyre management is a fundamental area which drivers are expected to take responsibility for. If Romain managed it, why couldnt Kimi?

Kimi’s motivation was gone because the pay was’nt good enough.

The results of the last half of 2013 are fact not wishful. I understand that Kimi had back troubles, but I think half of it was preparation for next season.

22

its not a badly run team. for their limited budget they were running near the front the last few years. sponsorship money seems to have gone down the grid to less capable teams and their pie in the sky promises. maybe these sponsors need to take another look.At least Maldonados sponsors saw sense.

23

Incorrect! They were mostly running at the front because Kimi Raikkonen was driving one of the Lotus! It wouldn’t be front runner with Grosjean who scored good results thanks to copying Kimi’s great setup solutions with engineers.

In anycase, they weren’t front runners unless you only coulnt Kimi’s points in 2012 & 2011. Sauber & Perez scored a few podiums in 2011, but no one is calling then a frint runner, are they! Kimi is the difference, and they chose to scam him.. Funny business.

24

Great setup solutions? Kimi was running an excellent setup in India wasn’t he, and Grosjean put in a terrible drive passing 13 cars to finish third. Kimi is a championship winner with many more seasons of experience, it would be expected that he does better than Grosjean.

Both of Kimi’s wins with Lotus were flukes. Especially Abu Dhabi 2012.

25

2011 typo for 2013.

26

That Lotus car seemed to be teeming with sponsor logos over the last 2 years. Now I understand that some of these may be low value deals but when I look at the space and visibility given to brands like Burn, Total (funds Romain’s place but I’m pretty sure there’s more to the deal than just the driver), Clear, Rexona et al, one wonders how Lopez and Lux burnt this €114 million hole. Have they been closing sponsor deals at bargain prices or have they been caught out by the cost structure at the Enstone base and operations? The car has always looked it had no space for more sponsors which is a rarity in today’s F1 grid. With Raikkonnen in their team, Lopez probably had the best chance at securing some lucrative sponsor deals. Romain and Pastor are not exactly awe inducing by a mile.

27

Exactly! Their cars are Full of Sponsors! Where is ghat money?

Sponsors like Rexona & Burn have used Kimi Raikkonen’s Image and Presence for 2 Years due to him being a Lotus Driver. They would have otherwise have to pay a personality like Kimi close to a few Million for using his Image!! But Sponsors got it done for Free because they are paying Lotus for the priveledge!

But Lotus/ Lopez hasn’t passed on part of sponsors money to Kimi which the sponsors gave! Reeks of scamming your own employee by Lopez.

28

Don’t forget this is the only team that appeared to get close to Red Bull at the end of last year. And this with probably a quarter of the budget, and without the special bonus that Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes get from Bernie.

A badly run team would be one with a big budget that doesn’t perform; perhaps the previous three years of Mercedes is an example. A team with a small budget that pushes for the lead must be a very well run team.

As for the debt, how does the £80m from Genii compare to the money Materschitz has put into Red Bull? Or Malja into Force India? And I’d bet the accounts of Sauber and Williams are similarly interesting.

29

Really? The critical difference is that Red Bull is a consumer brand that benefits from the advertising, and it generates sufficient cash flow to easily fund whatever demands RBR has on said funds.

30

And so the Lotus saga rumbles on…

I am really tired of it, I understand Lotus as a brand is important to F1, but currently it is just an irritation.

I won’t be surprised to see them quit F1 in a year or so. And I won’t regret it -modern “itarations” (plural) of Lotus have no historical value or roots to be considered meaningful.

31

Such a badly run team. Does anyone believe the reason given for not announcing an engine partner?

32

They do not have one is the reason.

33

Did you even read the article?

34

YRS I did…it is my point that in the END they will not have an engine supplier I am saying the wheels are really going to fall off this!!

35

I liked this team from Enstone (Lotus?). But whatever spin they try to put on it they are in trouble, not only financial, but clearly the “brain drain” will affect their competitiveness. I think Eric Boullier has manfully stuck his task with a certain integrity, but as mentioned before, at ownership level there must be serious question marks – e.g. the Quantum dupe and the contradictory statements emerging from time to time. While they did attract some sponsorship, the fact that given their competitiveness they failed to land a really big title sponsors must be a sign that sponsors are dubious of backing this management/ownership. A pity, but it would be sad to lose this team from Enstone – having something gives and they can be once again “reborn” under different ownership …

36
heinzman (fan of: ALO)

Lopez cops a lot of criticism here, but I struggle to see problems with the above; it is nice for a senior figure to be straight forward regarding his position. Surely he didn’t expect to tip so much of his own money into the team, but he moves on and puts the team first.

Also in terms of pure speed, IMO Grosjean is only bettered by Vettel, Hamilton and possibly Nico; Alonso and Kimi are not as quick over a single lap. It is an almost baseless criteria though – championships are won on so much more.

37

I don’t know watching identical fastest sector times for Kimi for whole race is something else. Romain never achieved anything similar, he is more like Massa.

38

Totally off topic for this thread, but James, any confirmation of some of the reports coming out today regarding Schumacher’s condition?

Also, any validity to this outrageous claim:

“Red Bull, it reports, has banned driver Daniel Ricciardo from surfing in the sea off his hometown of Perth in Australia because of the danger of shark attacks.”

They do realise that, since 1791, we’ve had only 702 shark attacks and 202 deaths in Australia, from a population of (now) over 22 million?? That’s less than 4 attacks per year, and less than 1 death per year…

39

If Red Bull have banned him from surfing I would understand. I live in Perth and I sure as hell wouldn’t go in the ocean regardless of the statistical odds of being attacked by a Great White. Apart from maybe South Africa, Western Australia has the highest concentration of shark attacks in the world, particularly in recent times.

Regarding those statistics, people have only been swimming at the beach here in appreciable numbers since the 1930’s at best. This will drastically alter those figures by around 250%.

Never thought I’d be talking about shark attacks on this site. Digression. 🙂

40

Love the statistics!

In the UK, there is an average of about one fatality from sky diving per year, out of a population of 63 million. Almost no risk involved at all.

41

More big talk from Gerard but unfortunately its just too wish washy.. GENII cant have a debt of 80m if its reconciled to marketing expense. Which is it ? there are laws in most countries which deal with the treatment of this. (Im sure this has some how been ring fenced- such as an advance in soonsorship If I were the new CEO Matthew Carter I d say thanks Genii for the 80m sponsorship you gave us – so we’re all square now are we : ). Can we have another 80m more ?? Lol

As for outright speed ? Grosjean top 3 or 4!!- uhmm- hasnt won a race. Lets see Faster than Vettel , Hamilton, Alonso,Raikkonen even Hulkenberg ? I think not. An unhappy and in pain Raikkonen was 1/2 faster – their last time together and comprehensively beat him over both years despite the team boss being his manager. Grosjean is without a doubt the most over rated driver in the sport and has been for 2 years& James I blame you and Gerard and all the happy smiley kids for it lol.. Dont get me wrong hes done brilliantly to work his way up to perhaps top 6 but thats it- nothing more.

42

Grosjean has achieved more in his first 2 full seasons than Raikkonen had in his first 2 full seasons. Grosjean with two 2nd places and seven 3rd places. Raikkonen with one 2nd place and three 3rd places.

Grosjean has done about as well against Raikkonen this season as Raikkonen did against Coulthard in his 2nd full season. Keep in mind that Coulthard was not a world champion.

Grosjean, along with Maldonado, cop so much unwarranted flak. One is a race winner and the other has multiple podium finishes. Hulkenberg (who is also a great talent of the future) is not attacked like these two are, and he has not even made it on to the podium yet. Senna and Scheckter were super quick crashers early in their careers as well.

43

Michael Schumacher observed Raikkonen when he first turned a wheel at Sauber and even then he could see he could be champion at 21 in a car that was not a front runner. No one can say that about Grosjean even after a few seasons in F1 and a very good racing package.its almost comical how people try to compare anyone to him- he is Unique.

Switching teams from Sauber to Mclaren is not the same as staying at Mclaren or Lotus is it ?? Even then he was better than DC – & even he would admitt to that. Comparing a part experienced driver 27 (Grosjean)to a complete rookie at 21 is very flattering to someone isnt it ?? Comeon Really !

Im glad you mentioned all those drivers that crash alot, because even as the youngest F1 driver of his time Kimi made very few mistakes and his wheel to wheel racing was (& still is better than anyone around). Just watch Spa, Brazil 2012. Despite their sucesses Grosjean & Maldonado are still very prone to making wrong decisions in these circumstances- these are the things that hinder them from becoming world champions- same to some extent as Hulk- (Brazil 12) .

Comparing top 2 drivers to Kimi is fair enough because they are at least champions.But even they cannot drive with the same precision. Noone past or past has Kimis racing etiquette combined with that natural speed. This perhaps more than anything is why most people respect him.

44

It was Spa 2010 actually. He bumped into Button then. In 2009 he finished 3rd behind the Force India and of course Kimi won 🙂 As you know 🙂

45

@Sujith. I dont think Seb is as precise even today – forget 2008, Spa 2009 ? he had a brain fade and drove straight into the side of Button. Turkey 2010 with Webber..Even Brazil 2012.. Hes improving at the wheel to wheel stuff but noone is like Raikkonen and I say that without any hesitation- Past or Present.

46

Well said…Elie. Why do people keep forgetting the past?

Here’s a reminder… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJ_0U0LaxW8

Now seriously guys, it’s an insult to Formula 1 to be comparing Grosjean with Kimi.

When was the last time we saw a young driver at the early part of his career do something like this? Sebastian Vettel in 2008? Well that’s too far away counting the years. Proves Webber’s point about a lack of pure talent in F1 these days.

47

Kimi Raikkonen was 21, with the shortest route to F1 in history… While Grosjean is 26!

Do the math, and you’d realize how rude it is to compare Grosjean with Kimi Raikkonen. Kimi was hailed as brilliant on debut year, while Grosjean was hailed as a First- Lap Nutcase lol

48

Regarding your comments about Grosjean having achieved nothing and Hulkenberg’s apparent rejection by top teams.

I suppose it’s pretty easy to make it on to the podium several times in today’s super competitive Formula 1 with 5 champions on the grid. Yeah, a complete non achievement.

Hulkenberg is (unfortunately for him) quite tall, relative to most other drivers which adds significant mass to a driver and thus car. This mass cannot simply be exercised away. He is stuck with it even in tip top shape with minimal muscle mass. Not only does this affect the center of gravity on car and driver, it is a major issue for 2014 as packaging the new cars and keeping these at the minimum mass is proving very difficult. The lightest drivers are preferred as they grant the engineers more freedom and breathing space. Hulkenberg has not missed out on a top drive due to a lack of talent.

Mark Webber made the “first lap nutcase” comment about Grosjean in 2012. By the end of 2013 Grosjean had made tremendous improvements and for the most part redeemed himself. Webber even complimented him on his driving after Texas I believe.

49

Nothing else to add.

50

Wow. Very insightful. Does put Grosjean’s achievements into context.

51

Grosjean hasn’t achieved anything, so I fail to see what achievements people talk about.

Grosjean’s only achievement has been crashing, costing Lotus money spare parts & costing Lotus in WCC points.

The Over-rating of Gro, just like Hulk is being overrated in 2013 by the media! Top Teams with Top Data sms’d no to him.

52

Why me?

He wasn’t in my Top 5 of 2013!

He did improve a lot in the second half of the season, however. I can’t wait to see how he goes in 2014.

53

Just concerned that all the challenges at Lotus won’t give him a car to challenge with this year.

54

Maybe its the excitement I sensed whenever he outqualified Kimi. I guess its a great benchmark and too many other people confused this for race craft on Sunday.

He did have a great second half. Brake issues/ failures at Canada, Spa and even Monza would have made an even stronger disparity.

Romain should beat Pastor in. 2014. But if Pastor finds his feet quickly- Im tipping it maybe much closer than people think.

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