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Lotus owner Gérard Lopez exclusive: & # 34; Driver choice will not be a laughing stock & # 34;

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Lotus owner Gérard Lopez exclusive
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Did Kimi Raikkonen get sick because he didn't get a salary?

L opez: The money has little to do with it. We cleared that up in Abu Dhabi. Of course he gets his money. Perhaps his new employer advised him that it would be better to get treatment as soon as possible. I speak to Kimi almost every day. There are no problems between us. The most important thing is that he no longer has any problems with his back.

How big was your list for the Raikkonen cockpit?

Lopez: A total of seven people. But look after me when I can't name everyone. If that had happened to us in race number 10 or 11, only one driver would have been on the list.

Which one?

Lopez: Clearly Davide Valsecchi. Like Jérôme d‘Ambrosio last year. But in the current situation, where it's about second place, we can't just throw Davide in for the last two races and tell him: You’re going to race against the Ferrari guys. That would have been unfair. That's why we unfortunately had to remove him from the list. And not because he didn't deserve it.

Why did you contact Michael Schumacher?

Lopez: Michael is a good driver and he has experience. He wasn't the first choice, but he was on the list. But he had other plans.

Why didn't it work out with Nico Hülkenberg?

Lopez: It's a shame for us, but definitely a shame for Nico too. As I understand it, he was suddenly paid. He was no longer free for us.

Will Pastor Maldonado be driving for Lotus next year?

Lopez: I also read that he has already been registered as fixed in Venezuela, but nothing has been signed yet. But he is a serious candidate for next year. Other candidates are now falling out because she has already signed elsewhere. Whatever our choice, it will not be a laughing stock. We did the same with Romain at the time. Just the opposite ofwhat was advised to us back then. If I had listened to what we were told, Grosjean would work in the bank today. Suddenly everyone discovered Romain themselves.

Will Quantum still pay for its 35 percent of the team?

Lopez: You're running out of time. Either they fulfill their contractual obligations or we have to draw our conclusions.

Do you need the money from Maldonado then?

Lopez: I need a sponsor then. I don't care whether the money comes with a driver or alone. I also take Fernando Alonso with his sponsor.

You are often criticized for the fact that Lotus spends more money than it has. What do you think about that?

Lopez: Some journalists in Formula One pretend they work for the Wall Street Journal. They do financial analyzes that ignore reality. I don't even want to answer that, otherwise it will go back and forth like a snowball. Many of these stories are also specifically scattered in the paddock. The people who get more money from the rights holders for the same job or for a worse job than us allow themselves to talk about our finances. I think that's a mess. If we got the money they get, we wouldn't lose any money, nobody would talk about it, and we would go further than them. While others run 100 meters, we cover 200 meters in the same time. Maybe it bothers some people that we still get on the podium.

Why does a team like Lotus find it so difficult to find a sponsor for the performances shown on the track ?

Lopez: Formula 1 offers good sport, but it's too expensive. It is not as if potential sponsors are generally uninterested. But when I tell a sponsor that they don't have to pay 15 or 20 million dollars, but rather 40, 50 or 60, many people shy away. It's a house number and the market won't give it away. But if I want to be up front, I need a sponsor like that. Something is wrong with the system. I could have had a sponsor signed five times for 20 million, but then for a period of three, four or five years. That means I'm still missing the other 20 million over that period. So I would always have to add 20 million from my own cash, guaranteed. At the moment I am planning from year to year, in the hope that the big sponsor will come. If not, I'll have to top it off in the end. That's the perverse thing about Formula 1. I could also be happy with being in midfield. Then I don't have toPutting dollars into the team. Therefore it is disrespectful to be criticized by people who are not there with their own money.

Is it any wonder that you are fighting for second place in the World Cup with your budget?

Lopez: It's not a miracle, it's a good job. Or better work than many others. We invest the money privately and do not waste the coal of some other company. That's the difference.

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