Eric Boullier has moved to downplay the Lotus team's reported debt issues, insisting that the Enstone-based squad is in a similar position to many of its rivals when it comes to its financial situation.
Rumours about the team have been abound for some time, and increased when Kimi Raikkonen revealed that money had been a factor
in his decision to re-sign for Ferrari for the 2014 campaign.
Speaking to the official F1 website however, Boullier was quick to downplay reports that Lotus was fighting to stay afloat and that any debts were in line – or less – than a number of other teams on the grid.
“Look at some of the other teams: at Red Bull or Mercedes, those companies are sponsoring the teams,” he said. “[Lotus owner] 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.
“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. Take Mercedes for example: they could say that the money they invest in Brackley is only a loan - then the debt of the team would be seriously higher than ours.”
Despite downplaying the debt however, Boullier did admit that the potential costs involved in the 2014 season were cause for concern, with the team in negotiations with potential title sponsors.
“It will cost more than our revenue stream, so we increase the imbalance,” he said. “But if you have the proper support - and Genii has the means to cover this - then you can look ahead. Of course the plan is to bring somebody in to make us move to the next step and to increase our revenue stream.”
Boullier also insisted that the financial differences between Raikkonen and the team would have been fully resolved by the seasons end and were simply down to managing cashflow to spend money in the right places at the right time.
“It is public knowledge by now that we've been late in paying him, and he got upset,” he said. “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. Our suppliers and key people who develop the car were our priority - maybe not Kimi. But 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.”