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Renault plays down financial concerns

ESPNF1 Staff
September 27, 2011 « Teams unhappy with 2012 schedule | Barrichello 'cool' amid rumours he will be replaced »
Gerard Lopez: "We make money somewhere else" © Sutton Images

Renault co-owner Gerard Lopez insists his team is not in financial trouble and is not concerned if it continues to make a loss.

Genii Capital, Lopez's investment company, bought 75% of Renault in December 2009 after borrowing a $27 million loan from the car manufacturer's own bank. He then paid off that loan by taking out another with Lithuania-based AB Snoras, and reports in recent weeks suggest Genii now has to pay that back or hand over control of the team to the bank.

That has led to speculation that title sponsor Group Lotus could take over the team completely and that Bruno Senna's appointment as a race driver is financially motivated. But Lopez, who uses the team as a business-to-business venture, says recent investment in an improved windtunnel and simulator facility proves Genii is committed to the team's future.

"It's been one of the surprises for me in Formula One, the fact that any time we have a new driver, any time we announce something, any time I take a trip to Brazil or Russia or whatever, suppose I'm looking for money for the team," he said. "The fact is that we're involved in a lot of businesses. This one, as a matter of fact, is one that we hope is going to be break-even at some point in time. It's not but it's not one that needs to make money for us. We make money somewhere else.

"I used to answer this giving examples and so on. To be honest, I don't care anymore because if it was reality we wouldn't be there for a long time. I think the team that we took over had about 480 people. We saved those jobs and added about forty jobs to those. Facts speak for themselves.

"As I said, I used to get quite angry every time I would pick up something like that. Now it's almost like crying wolf and nobody cares. The fact is that the facts are there: we are investing, we're adding sponsors."

He also made clear that the team is not relying on sponsorship its two current drivers, Vitaly Petrov and Senna, attract.

"Our drivers, whenever they get called pay drivers, I actually feel bad for them, not for us because at the end of the day, there is no driver that I think or I hope could bring enough money to actually carry this kind of team forward," Lopez added. "I find it disrespectful to those guys. I used to find it disrespectful to us, to be honest with you. Now I don't any more so now what we do is we get on with the things that we have to do. We make the investments that we have to make and at the end of the day we will see - in terms of results - what will be in the future and hopefully we will be wherever our investments carry us, which is to be one of the top three teams."