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Lotus investors talked with three other F1 teams

ESPN Staff
June 19, 2013 « Hamilton excited by 'amazing support' at Silverstone | Indian GP denies race is at risk »
Infinity Racing has acquired a 35% stake in the Lotus F1 team © Sutton Images

Infinity Racing, the investment group which acquired a stake in Lotus earlier this week, was in talks with three other F1 teams before deciding to buy into Lotus.

Infinity Racing took a 35% stake in Lotus on Tuesday and is comprised of private investors that include an American hedge fund manager, an Abu Dhabi-based multinational business group and royal family interests of a major oil producing nation believed to be Brunei. Chairman of Infinity Racing, Mansoor Ijaz, said the investors had entered negotiations with three other F1 teams but had been most impressed by Lotus.

"We have been looking at Formula One for about two years now," Ijaz told Sports Pro Media. "We looked at three other teams before we decided on Lotus. I won't mention which ones but we had general discussions and in some cases very specific discussions.

"There were two things missing in the other teams we looked at. The first was the element of real team spirit, meaning across the board - vertically as well as horizontally - in terms of the breadth and depth of the team's capacity - its interconnectedness. I just didn't see that in any of the other teams that we looked at. The second element was the business brains that run Genii Capital and the business brains that affect the way in which Lotus is managed as a business; these are men cut from the same cloth as I have been throughout my career. There was a congruency in the way we thought the business ought to be run. They've done an incredibly good job to bring team harmony back to a team that had been fractured by the problems it had before.

"If Lotus was, on a scale of minus ten to plus ten, at minus eight because of the problems it had before Genii Capital came in and now it's plus five, six or even seven, what we're doing is topping it off to make sure they get to the championship. That has two key elements: technology and sponsorship revenue and that's basically what we're bringing to the table."

Ijaz also went into a little more detail about what Infinity Racing will bring to the team.

"I would say we will be integrally involved in the technology development side, as the engines change next year, as technology comes to the front," he said. "I have a younger brother, my youngest brother, who is very bright. Where I've developed the capacity in the financial sense, he's got the technological abilities that are quite astounding. His name is Mujeeb and he is the chief technology officer of A123 Venture Technologies in Boston. He was for the better part of his career a senior design engineer at Ford Motor Company and while he was at Ford he set the land speed record at Bonneville, 202.9mph in a hydrogen-powered car. He also set, with his technology in lithium ion batteries, the land speed record at Bonneville in the Venturi - a dragster supported by a Monaco billionaire.

"He's an important part of the story of what we're doing because he brings a certain capability as a systems integrator and an expert in battery technology that will, I think, dramatically enhance what we're doing on the technological side come next season. My own background is engineering and science and I had a fairly significant, long history with different kinds of engineering and science and technology - our whole family has.

"Part two, as far as the management of the team is concerned I don't really see much need to interfere in that. Eric and Gerard have done just a superb job in what they've done so far - there's an old saying, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. In that sense I will participate but not be very much hands-on. We will be deeply involved in helping to raise the sponsorship revenues by bringing title sponsors to the team - that will happen pretty quickly - and we will bring some significant players to the game. I will basically bring my global network to bear on the business of our Formula One team and just make it the best team in Formula One."

Asked where he expected the team to be in 12 months, Ijaz added: "We'll be number one in 12 months. I say it simply, flatly, completely - we'll be number one in 12 months."