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Lopez: I want drivers, not robots

Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez is happy with the contribution Kimi Raikkonen has made to the Enstone squad's revival, insisting that he always wanted 'drivers, not robots' in his cars.
Lotus F1 team owner Gerard Lopez says that he had no doubts that Kimi Raikkonen would be able to return to his previous best, unlike others who questioned the wisdom of signing the Finn after two years out of the sport.

Despite including a world championship campaign in 2007, Raikkonen's first stint in F1 earned him the reputation of having a laissez-faire attitude and he did little to disguise his contempt for extra-curricular commitments to sponsors and the media, leading to suggestions that Lotus' decision to hire him for 2012 could cause headaches for the team. The Finn, however, proved the doubters wrong by being a podium threat for much of the year, before eventually taking victory in Abu Dhabi en route to third overall in the standings.

"That makes me smile, as I was sure it would be like this," Lopez told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, "Raikkonen put in a lot of work to compliment his talent and the results are the fruit of that.

“Here at Lotus, he feels like he is being used for what's most important and, for the rest of the time, he is free. He's found a balance, he has enthusiasm and desire. I wouldn't dream of 'controlling' him - I want drivers, not robots."

Lopez also revealed that he was in no rush to sell the team, as had been rumoured in recent months. Dismissing suggestions that the Enstone squad was in financial problems now that it has attracted several high-profile backers including Coca-Cola, which comes on board for 2013 with its Burn energy drink brand, the Luxembourg-based businessman insists that being in F1 was good for building relationships.

"We have always said that, if there are investors who want to come in, we are ready, but I have never wanted to sell the team,” he explained, “For me, for Genii Capital, F1 is a great platform from which to develop business with the sponsors we talk to."

Lotus heads into 2013 with an unchanged line-up, having decided to re-sign Romain Grosjean alongside Raikkonen for a second term. The French youngster endured a trying 2012 campaign, blending podium finishes with an unwanted reputation for making costly mistakes, but Lopez clearly sees untapped potential in the former GP2 champion.

"Romain wasn't guilty of all he was accused of," he insisted, “Things were exaggerated, and he paid for the mistakes of others when he was suspended for the Italian Grand Prix. There were four drivers who were reprimanded more often than he was, but they were able to take part in every race....”

Lopez has made no secret of his desire to usurp one of the current 'big three' teams in 2013 and, having pushed Raikkonen ahead of both McLaren drivers in the individual standings, hopes that a bigger contribution from Grosjean can help propel the team into the leading trio this time around.

"Romain has always shown that he can drive quickly, so I am expecting a lot more from him this season," he concluded.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
24.11.2012- Free Practice 3, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E20
24.11.2012- Free Practice 3, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E20
08.02.2012 Jerez, Spain, Gerard Lopez (FRA), Lotus Renault GP owner   - Formula 1 Testing, day 1 - Formula 1 World Championship
24.11.2012- Qualifying, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E20
15.11.2012 - Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1 Team E20
20.11.14- The lotus Steering wheel
20.11.14- Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.14- Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22 and Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T
20.11.2014 - Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T
20.11.2014 - Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
20.11.2014 - Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
09.11.2014 - Race, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Lotus F1 Team E22
09.11.2014 - Race, Fernando Alonso (ESP) Scuderia Ferrari F14-T and Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E22

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RoyalMush - Unregistered

January 08, 2013 1:14 PM

Really glad kimi again found some1 who willing to trust him and understand him. Not many of these figures around kimi in F1 circle. No matter how many people critisize him, doubt him, throw hateful speech, Kimi nvr once repay the same deed to them. Just kept quiet, does his own stuff, nvr bother badmouthing about others, nvr overhype his own achievement, nvr even attemp to praise himself. Because of his characters, it tooks people with wisdom to really understood him. Peter Sauber was the first who trust him more than anyone else by offering hima seat when rbr, FIA and other veteran drivers oppose to it. Ron Dennis, Jean Todt came to mind. And im glad Gerard Lopez is another. All the best to Kimi in 2013, a guy that nvr wished to be understood, sympathize and only focus on walking his own path. The true F1 legend to me, and a great figure to learn from in life.

startwush - Unregistered

January 08, 2013 2:47 PM

@separated guess you had to re watch formula 1 started from 2001 to call Kimi overrated. As i 've been hearing more critics that praise for this guy all the while from experts. Driver like lewis get rated 8 for DNF by autosport....win a race and was regarded as next SENNA despite driving the best car. You are lacking serious common sense dude.

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