As reported by Forbes, the Lotus F1 squad revealed that last year is made a record loss within motorsport of $107.9m. Not the sort of record an F1 team wants to make, but it highlights how a team that under a previous guise as a Renault works-team won the world championship twice just 9 years ago is now facing questions over how long it can remain in the sport.
Lotus has no affiliation to the Lotus roadcar arm, only sharing logos and branding. It is funded by the private equity firm Genii Capital which is owned by Gerard Lopez. Lopez said recently in an interview with the Independent, "We support Lotus with debt, not sponsorship like other big teams." Lotus is running through loans made in recent years to compete at the high end of motorsport. The expense of hiring Kimi Raikkonen (although it is claimed he is still owed $24m in earnings) and the cost of producing a car for a whole new era of F1 this year has begun to take its toll on the outfit.
2013 was a positive year for the team on track, with a win in Australia and ten further podium finishes. 2014 in contrast has so far been a disaster for a team seen as a top outfit. Pastor Maldonado was signed up for 2014, replacing Kimi Raikkonen. Maldonado is well known for having a well funded sponsor in PDVSA, and it was no surprise that Lotus have already announced he will be driving for Lotus in 2015 – despite a season where he has scored no points so far.
Lopez has claimed that there will be a series of costs savings and organisational changes through 2014, along with renewed effort in finding a title sponsor for 2015. Whether it will be enough to survive in F1? We will have to see.