Genii Capital owner Gérard Lopez has confessed that his company's venture onto the grand prix grid in 2010 as the new majority stakeholder in Renault F1 has been more financially draining than he had initially anticipated – but he insists he has 'much enthusiasm' as he now looks ahead to 2011.
Luxembourg-based investment firm Genii Capital took over the Enstone-based outfit late last year, due to falling car sales resulting from the global credit crunch and following a bruising season for the former double F1 World Champions on the track during which the French manufacturer's name and international reputation had been dragged through the mud over the salacious 'Singapore-gate' scandal. Worse still, talisman driver Fernando Alonso and leading sponsors ING and Mutua Madrileña departed the fray and the team itself came very close to receiving a permanent ban from competition over the aforementioned race-fixing ignominy.
Little was expected, truth be told, of the embattled Renault F1 this year, but having purchased an 85 per cent stake in the Oxfordshire concern from its parent company last winter, Lopez has played an instrumental role in helping the restructured squad to turn its fortunes around with a far more competitive campaign than in 2009.
The recent revelation that the team has applied to the sport's influential commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone for an advance of its commercial revenue, however, hinted at cash flow troubles – and Lopez does not deny that with progress not coming cheap, he has had to invest rather more into the project than he had originally forecast.
“From a commercial point-of-view, things are going well,” the successful entrepreneur is quoted as having said by Italian magazine Autosprint
. “We are in-line with our plans, but it F1 costs much more than we thought.
“We knew that our car was not born with as much speed as we wanted, and we had to inject resources to make it competitive – and then there's the development aspect, which is higher than expected, meaning additional costs – but regarding 2011, we are still looking forward with much enthusiasm.”