Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez says his team deserves more respect for its results in Formula 1 this year, claiming it is not being fairly treated financially by the sport.
Lotus finished fourth in the constructors’ championship this season, but was in the hunt for a top-three spot with Mercedes and Ferrari until the final round in Brazil.
There was much speculation over the financial state of the team, as lead driver Kimi Raikkonen signed for Ferrari and quit Lotus with two races still to run to have back surgery following a pay dispute with the squad. Lotus has also been involved in protracted negotiations with the Quantum Motorsport investment group while replacing Raikkonen with Pastor Maldonado, who brings substantial backing from the Venezeulan state oil company PDVSA.
Lopez says his team has to seek investment because it does not receive as much money from the sport as the other top teams. He thinks Lotus should get more respect for achieving what it has done amid financial restraint.
“We were fighting for third place but the reality is that, F1 being what it is, we are not being treated that way financially speaking. And what is true for us is true for other teams,” Lopez said. “We are running the 100 meters, but we actually start at the 200-meter mark.
“We find it a bit disrespectful when people start writing about our woes, or when other people comment on them. If I got the same amount of money [as the other top teams] I would just shut my mouth and focus on my job, I wouldn’t comment on it. That is the part we find a bit ridiculous.
“I am looking for people to have respect and realize this is not corporate money being spent. We are beating people who have way more money and get way more money. To have a bit of respect is fair — not for us [the owners], [but] certainly for the people at the team.
“We want to live and succeed in F1. If it is just about surviving, I don’t know if our motivation is the same.
“That is the only reason why we opened up discussions to investors. We know we have probably one of the best teams in F1, and we know for sure we have pound-for-pound the best team in F1. We are trying to preserve that.”