Jan.15 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Lotus owner Gerard Lopez has moved to allay fears the Enstone based team is on the verge of collapse.
When the FIA issued the official 2014 entry list recently, Lotus’ place was marked with a conspicuous asterisk, fuelling rumours of financial doom.
“We just had the wrong team name on the list, namely the one of two years ago,” Lopez told Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport on Wednesday.
“I can assure you — everything is still the same.”
Despite the reassurance, however, many wonder if the now-terminally delayed ‘Quantum’ buy-in has derailed Lotus, who have turned to the lucratively-backed Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado to replace unpaid Finn Kimi Raikkonen.
Lopez insists Raikkonen has now been “partly paid”. “He will get the rest,” he added.
But Lotus is also sitting out the forthcoming Jerez test, where every other team is expected to put the newly V6-powered single seaters through their paces for the first time.
Like the entry list, Lotus’ absence will be conspicuous.
“We are very satisfied with the development of our car,” Lopez said, “which will perhaps look a bit different from the others.
“We believe it is better to use the next few weeks in the wind tunnel, which will give us more than one test on the track would.”
He insists that missing Jerez will not give Lotus’ rivals a head-start when it comes to understanding the new turbo ‘power unit’.
“There is also Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Caterham testing (the Renault engine), and the findings will also benefit us,” said Lopez.
“Any changes Renault makes before the Bahrain test will also be in our car,” he explained.
“The first real test is in Bahrain,” said Lopez. “Before that, we can find more laptime in the factory.”
But, actually, Lotus or Renault never officially announced a new deal for 2014. Does the team even have an engine for 2014?
“We have the Renault engine,” Lopez insisted, “but Lotus is not just a customer of Renault. Our engineers for example have helped develop the KERS.
“So we have tried to agree that it is more than just an engine deal, which has delayed the negotiations somewhat.”
But now terminally delayed, Lopez admitted, is the Quantum deal.
“The money never arrived,” he said, “so we cancelled it. For 2014, our budget is complete with our new sponsor PDVSA.”
Finally, Lopez played down reports of a link with the Italian marque De Tomaso.
“There is currently nothing to it,” he said, but he did admit that he is looking into developing a carbon sports car, and “De Tomaso is an option”.
“But this has nothing to do with formula one,” added Lopez.