Lotus Formula 1 team chairman Gerard Lopez has rejected media reports that his team is in financial trouble.
Lopez, co-owner of Genii Capital, which bought the then-Renault squad in late 2009, believes that the nature of the team’s $160 million debt has been misunderstood. He also denied suggestions that staff had not been paid, and laughed off claims that a strike at the team’s Enstone, UK base had been threatened recently.
“On the debt, anybody half-smart can find out that number by going to Companies House records and will see that out of that, over 90 million euro [$90m] is not ‘real’ debt but shareholder loans made to the company,” Lopez told AUTOSPORT. “The salaries have always been paid on time and there has never been even a hint of a potential strike by our people at the factory.
“We usually don’t comment on these things, but in this case it’s unfair on the people working in the company to be saying things like that.”
Lopez also emphasized that Lotus does have the resources to continue to develop its car this year even though, inevitably, upgrades in the second half of the season will not be as dramatic as those produced earlier. Lotus plans to take a new front wing to the next race in Belgium, where it is also set to run its passive drag reduction system.
“We are actually bringing a number of new developments throughout the season,” said Lopez. “What is true is that, just like everyone else, a lot of the big stuff, like the double DRS, has already been developed but is going to be put on the car for the upcoming races.
“In the second half of the season all you are doing is coming up with new wings, you’re not look at changing the wheelbase or things like that those are things you do in the first 10 races.”
Lopez (LEFT) believes that Lotus’s recent performances, which have taken Kimi Raikkonen to second in the drivers’ championship and the team to fourth in the constructors’ standings, just 11 points behind Ferrari, are testament to the health of the squad. He stressed that significant investment has been made in the team since Genii took over.
“When we took over this team, it was eighth in the championship,” noted Lopez. “It had a 50 percent wind tunnel, now it’s 60 percent. The team didn’t have a driver-in-the-loop simulator, it does now. It didn’t have a gearbox dyno, now it has. So it has a bunch of things that it didn’t have even as a works team.
“As they say in other sports, you do your talking on the field and I guess we do our talking on the track.”