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Lopez dismisses talk of Lotus financial problems

NEWS STORY
18/08/2014

Whilst admitting that his team has lost money, Lotus owner Gerard Lopez insists that much of the negative talk is merely a smear campaign.

Already known to have money problems, it was around this time last year that it emerged that Kimi Raikkonen - then with the Enstone team - had not been paid, the Finn subsequently missing the last two races of the season due to a (ahem), back problem.

Almost all the teams were/are 'struggling' financially, including some of the bigger, well-established ones, but in the eyes (and ears) of many Lotus was suffering most.

Talking to the Independent, Lopez, whilst revealing his life-long love affair with cars, and Charlie Chaplin, insists that all is well at Enstone and money issues are not a concern.

"It's absurd to say that Genii has financial problems," he says. "Yes, Lotus has lost money, like every other F1 team in the world.

"Running Lotus cost us (Genii Capital) about €50m (£40m) last year," he continues, "and the related debts are about €100m, but the business is supported by shareholders and partners and represents only 10 per cent of our overall companies; the rest of Genii is profitable.

"We support Lotus with debt, not sponsorship like the other big teams. Only $6m of debt in the holding company of F1 is from banks. People are trying to compare apples with pears when it should be apples and apples.

"What's amusing to us is that Lotus - the David against the Goliaths - is always in the public eye more than the big teams like Red Bull and Ferrari," he adds. "But F1 is a bitchy world and smear campaigns between rival teams are commonplace."

Revealing that he has been a car nut all his life, Lopez reveals that whilst owning an F1 team might drain your bank account it also has advantages.

"It's extraordinary what owning an F1 team does for networking," he says. "Everybody who is anybody wants to be invited into the paddocks. You can't quantify the value of this network.

"Owning an F1 team is like stepping into the costume of a superhero for the weekend," he adds. "But then you get back to work in normal clothes like everybody else on a Monday."

Whilst the Enstone outfit seeks to add to its meagre points tally in the second half of the season, Lopez reveals the other project taking much of his time at present, a Charlie Chaplin museum which is being built in the grounds of the comedian and filmmaker's house in Switzerland.

"It's a bit like F1 for us," he admits, "the museum is unlikely to make huge money but we are passionate about Chaplin and want our children to remember his genius."

Looking ahead to 2015, Lopez hopes that Lotus will be back on form, putting the misery of 2014 behind it.

"We have big plans and ambitions for next year. We wouldn't be in this business if we weren't out to win."

Chris Balfe

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