Skip to main content

Lotus chose to spend cash on car rather than pay Kimi Raikkonen

September 25, 2013 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
Ferrari will pit two world champions against each other in 2014 as Kimi Raikkonen (left) returns to join Fernando Alonso. The pairing could be one of the most sensational in the history of Formula One. Ferrari will pit two world champions against each other in 2014 as Kimi Raikkonen (left) returns to join Fernando Alonso. The pairing could be one of the most sensational in the history of Formula One.
Ferrari fireworks?
Flying Finn
Class of 2001
Malaysian maiden
Race of champions
Ferrari party fizzles out
Rally run
Laconic Lotus man
The car's the star
  • The Lotus Formula One team says it prioritizes spending on developing the car
  • Driver Kimi Raikkonen is leaving Lotus at the end of 2013 because he was not paid
  • Lotus is financed by investment company Genii Capital, which loans the team the money
  • The team is looking for a lucrative title sponsor for the 2014 season

(CNN) -- When it comes to deciding where the money goes, the Lotus Formula One team says its main priority is the car -- not the star driver who sits in the cockpit.

Kimi Raikkonen said last week that he decided to leave it and rejoin Ferrari for the 2014 season because Lotus "haven't got my salary."

But the team, owned by Luxembourg-based investment group Genii Capital, has now responded by explaining that it prefers to focus its finances on developing the car, even if it means seeing their driving talent walk away.

Raikkonen has posted Lotus' only victory this year, with himself and the team both fourth in the respective driver and constructor standings.

"Our suppliers and key people who develop the car were our priority -- maybe not Kimi," Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told the official F1 website.

"Kimi was in a similar position last year and it was all settled by the end of the year. And Genii had the plan to do the same this year.

Lotus hopeful on Raikkonen
In the pits with Lotus F1 Team
Kimi Raikkonen returns to Formula 1

"It is public knowledge by now that we've been late in paying him, and he got upset.

Read: F1 championship standings

"To manage the cash flow -- and I don't mean the money itself or the budget we have, which is guaranteed by Genii, or at least most of it as we don't have the revenue stream to allow us to live independently from Genii -- this cash flow is an issue if you have fixed costs and want to keep up the development level.

"You have to decide where you want to spend your money."

Genii Capital took full control of the team -- which has raced in F1 since 1981 under its previous guises Toleman, Benetton and Renault -- from previous owner Renault in 2011.

Ownership by a private investment company, instead of car manufacturers such as Mercedes and Fiat, which owns Ferrari, or a global company such as Red Bull, can provide a more risky financial backdrop for an F1 team.

But Boullier says that Lotus' alternative business model does not mean it is mired in a financial crisis, as the rumors circulating in the sport would suggest.

Read: Raikkonen returns to Ferrari

"Red Bull or Mercedes, those companies are sponsoring the teams," said Boullier, whose driver management company Gravity also has connections to Genii. "Genii has a different strategy: they loan the money.

"It is part of the strategy that partners join the team and Genii will get back their investment.

Niki Lauda on F1's most dangerous years
Paul di Resta's Italian ancestry
Watch adrenaline-filled tour of Spa track

"Seventy-five percent of the debt Lotus has comes from Genii. They could write it off tomorrow by saying this money is a sponsorship -- and then our debt would be drastically reduced. Our normal debt is similar to most of the other teams."

Genii's strategy of choosing to bankroll the team before looking for sponsorship deals to recoup their investment is a gamble.

Having 2007 world champion Raikkonen on board would have inevitably helped attract sponsors, but now Boullier is looking at alternatives.

He says the team plans to emulate the business strategy of some of rivals, including Red Bull and McLaren, by looking for a title sponsor.

"It is no secret that for quite a while Genii have been looking for partners to make sure that we can bring more money to the team and have access to a bigger sponsor portfolio," the Frenchman added.

"We need to secure sponsors, as this is the only way to step up.

"Formula One depends massively on the people -- and to attract the best people to a team you need to have money, to be able to build something for the long term.

"Genii's plan was to bring the team up within five years -- which we are trying to do -- but to move to the next step you need another five-year plan in place. And that is what we are working on."

Part of complete coverage on
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
The big winners of this Formula One season could be road drivers rather than F1 racers, according to one former world champion.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
The Williams team welcomes the biggest rule changes to Formula One cars for a generation.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sums up the dawn of a new Formula One era in three juicy words -- weird, mind-blowing and challenging.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Formula One is taking another step in its techno evolution this season, which could be more unpredictable than it has been for a long time.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2255 GMT (0655 HKT)
Susie Wolff
Despite being a sport well into its seventh decade, only two women have ever driven in Formula 1 but Susie Wolff hopes to become the third.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Jann Mardenborough on the similarities and differences between driving a race on a video game and driving a real F1 car.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin watches the men's cross-country 4 x 10km relay event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL/ MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
How Russian president Vladimir Putin helped turn a muddy hole in the ground into a $400 million futuristic grand prix track in Sochi.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 0013 GMT (0813 HKT)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Formula One racing director Bernie Ecclestone talk during a ceremony of signing of an agreement to bring Formula One racing to Sochi for a Grand Prix Russia to be held in 2014, the same year the Black Sea resort hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi on October 14, 2010. Putin, whose backing was crucial in Sochi winning the right to host the Games, is due in the city on Thursday to sign an agreement for work to begin on the construction of a new 200 million dollar circuit. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Vilified by the the international community for his government's attitude on gay rights, Russian president Vladimir Putin has found an ally.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1217 GMT (2017 HKT)
CNN's Rosie Tomkins speaks to Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes on the team's driver line-up for 2014.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is bidding for a fifth consecutive drivers' championship in 2014.
He is Formula One's undisputed No. 1, and next season Sebastian Vettel will have proof of that fact emblazoned on his Red Bull.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.