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Lotus/Renault/Benneton - Where did it go wrong for Enstone?


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#1 Wiggy

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:16

Back when the team was Benneton and it was winning the championships with huge backing from UCOB, and then as a works team under Renault with huge investment, and now to a team that is beaten by even Marrusia to testing, where did things fall apart for this team that could always produce respectable cars within budget? Their facitlies should be top notch thanks to the Renault investment, and they always looked to have a decent selection of sponsors... Their WDC positions would be in some serious cash too...

Was hiring Kimi a mistake? Sure it brought interest to the team, but his wages have obviously caused an issue, should Boullier have baulked at the wage demands and not brought him back?

Somewhere along the line this team has lost it's way and now is becoming a bit of a joke, and it's a shame.

It's high time they dropped the faux lotus moniker and became 'Team Enstone' and restore pride to the team!

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#2 bystander31

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:19

2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

#3 Knot

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:21

2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

 

Beginning of the end, for sure.

 

The problem the last few years begins with a G and ends with an I.



#4 Peat

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:21

They spent money they didn't have (on the promise of said money).

 

It's simple.

 



#5 Maustinsj

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:24

Beginning of the end, for sure.

 

The problem the last few years begins with a G and ends with an I.

 

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#6 MikeV1987

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:28

Singapore 08, it was a desperate move to try and keep Alonso and their sponsor ING iirc, the rest is history. IMO they would have been worse off if they didn't hire a top driver like Raikkonen.


Edited by MikeV1987, 29 January 2014 - 09:32.


#7 Schuttelberg

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:29

Very good OP!

 

To answer your question about Raikkonen first- 

 

No, I don't think hiring Raikkonen was a mistake. Lotus had a very capable kit in both the years that he was there, and in my opinion, he did as much as you'd expect a WDC to do in the car in terms of results. If you are frank about the whole situation and a neutral, like I am being in this case, then Grosjean only really came into his own in the second half of 2013. Prior to that, he had speed, but his craft was no where near a top driver's and I still don't think he's there yet. All the other world champions, were never really moving to Lotus. It was in some ways, a perfect fit. It just fell apart because of finances. There's a famous saying "If you're good at something, never do it for free!" The same applies to Kimi.

 

Coming to where it went wrong? 

 

I think crashgate absolutely wrecked their image. Renault were never the same after it's revelation and they abandoned the works team. 

 

I feel when you own a race team, you have to have that drive and that passion to race and win. The ethos of Lotus, is a profit making business model and when that happens, the entire fundamentals of waiting to go racing are lost. In my opinion, Lotus which isn't really Lotus will end it's course in F1 sometime soon and GENII is going to be purely responsible for it. 

 

You look at teams like Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, RedBull, Sauber, Force India and most importantly Williams :- There's an obvious need and desire to turn a profit and grow as a company, but the very drive of being called a pure RACING team is what keeps them ticking. 

 

I know a lot of people will call Red Bull an energy drinks company at best, but their sheer desire to win is for all to see. You don't win four championships with a simple aim of just marketing your product. 



#8 swerved

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:42

Back when the team was Benneton and it was winning the championships with huge backing from UCOB, and then as a works team under Renault with huge investment, and now to a team that is beaten by even Marrusia to testing, where did things fall apart for this team that could always produce respectable cars within budget? Their facitlies should be top notch thanks to the Renault investment, and they always looked to have a decent selection of sponsors... Their WDC positions would be in some serious cash too...

Was hiring Kimi a mistake? Sure it brought interest to the team, but his wages have obviously caused an issue, should Boullier have baulked at the wage demands and not brought him back?

Somewhere along the line this team has lost it's way and now is becoming a bit of a joke, and it's a shame.

It's high time they dropped the faux lotus moniker and became 'Team Enstone' and restore pride to the team!

 

I'm reasonably certain that Boullier had little choice in whether Kimi was signed, was it a mistake ? No, as for his salary the whole idea of an incentive bonus is that it benefits both parties, and even then Genii didn't keep to their side of the deal.

 

One of the mistakes imo was Genii failing to capitalise fully on the successful return of one of the sports most popular drivers, even small things like replica kit not being available for months, and a nonchalant response to emails requesting restocking dates etc, only a small thing but surely lost opportunities to increase revenue and awareness.

 

Lopez has an awful lot to answer for, he's the reason it went wrong this time around.



#9 sopa

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 09:42

Hiring Kimi was not a mistake, but the way the contract was drawn up, was a mistake. As we know, salary was performance-based and Lotus underestimated the potential results. As a result they scored so many points which inflated the needed Kimi's salary so much it went through the roof.

 

This is just one example of messed up financial estimations. I think it is likely Genii has made more financial miscalculations we haven't heard about. As a result they are in the situation they currently face.



#10 PayasYouRace

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:01

I don't think having Kimi was anything to do with it.

 

I think it comes down to not getting at good enough buyer after Renault left. Lotus turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. In hindsight it looks like Lotus cars just trying to spite what is now Caterham. Genii hasn't really done their job correctly.



#11 alfa1

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:06

... where did things fall apart for this team that could always produce respectable cars within budget?

 

Over in another thread, it was said that:

Force India's spokesperson said they didn't have the budget to consider radical nose solutions . . .

The rules imply the 'anteater' so they got on with it.

 

When I read that, I couldn't help but think that in contrast to FI, in the middle of the biggest financial and staffing crisis ever, the Enstone team decided it would be a good idea to spend resources creating hitherto unseen crazy offset tuning fork nose.

 

I think some unusually good results over the last few years have deluded them into thinking they're playing with the "big boys", and spending bazillions fighting for winning the constructors title would be a good idea.

As has been pointed out by others in the thread so far, they don't have the budget for that, so should have just settled for being a solid midfielder until the money started coming in again. But pride wouldn't let them.

 

Thats my theory.



#12 saudoso

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:12

And Toleman before that.

 

Crash Gate was the turning point I'd say. It was symptom of other problems - with the team desperately needing to score a win for FA, but they'd have overcame it like they actually did. The stunt just pushed the organization downhill I guess.



#13 redviper22

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:13

When Briatore left

#14 KWSN - DSM

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:15

Ambition overtook their budget.

 

:cool:



#15 alfa1

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:21

Ambition overtook their budget.

 

:cool:

 

Further to this (and what else I just posted), here's some quotes from one year ago at the launch.

 

"Our expectation is to do better than we did last year [4th], which is quite a lofty expectation, but that is what we are shooting for," declared Gerard Lopez.

Eric Boullier underlined that target, stating: "Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have next year."

"So we will fight everything we can to be in [the] top three."

 

Two philosophies:

1. Build the best car you can afford.

2. Go into debt building a better car than you can afford, in the *HOPE* that the results will give you sponsors and constructor point money.

 

Enstone did option 2, for too many years.



#16 Nemo1965

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:25

Well, where did it go wrong for the original Lotus-team? After Chapman died (end of 1982, I believe) they still had good sponsors (JPS and Camel, Hitachi), capable to excellent drivers (Mansell, De Angelis, Senna, Piquet, Herbert, Zanardi), good enough results... Still, ultimately slowly the team slipped backwards and then out of F1.

 

The results of the 'New Lotus' are comparable to the results of Lotus in 1985-1987. Also, back then Lotus was not good enough to win the world championship but still had expenses for a world championship team. Something got to give then... and at the same seems to happen to the current Lotus.


Edited by Nemo1965, 29 January 2014 - 10:25.


#17 chunder27

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:29

As soon as Lotus lost Camel they went wuickly downhill, the Lambo engine was a disaster, though you can see their point in taking it. They had a small renaissance in the 92/3/4 times with Johnny and a good engine and then honda too, but they struggled so much for money.

 

As for Benetton, never been a fan since 94 and the cheating, never liked Briatore, but enjoyed them taking the fight to ferrari in 05 with Alonso.

 

Difficult to say what the current problems are, in my eyes they are similar to some mid table prem football sides overspending in the hope that will keep them in the league, without really finding out what the problems are.



#18 Nustang70

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:31

Further to this (and what else I just posted), here's some quotes from one year ago at the launch.

 

"Our expectation is to do better than we did last year [4th], which is quite a lofty expectation, but that is what we are shooting for," declared Gerard Lopez.

Eric Boullier underlined that target, stating: "Third place is at least an achievement we would like to have next year."

"So we will fight everything we can to be in [the] top three."

 

Two philosophies:

1. Build the best car you can afford.

2. Go into debt building a better car than you can afford, in the *HOPE* that the results will give you sponsors and constructor point money.

 

Enstone did option 2, for too many years.

 

Yup.  Results were supposed to bring sponsors.  Didn't happen.  The sport refuses to recognize that it's funding model is broken.  Pure sponsorship deals are becoming increasingly rare.  

 

I still believe the team would have been better off had Renault sold it to Prodrive. 


Edited by Nustang70, 29 January 2014 - 10:33.


#19 Risil

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:33

Two philosophies:

1. Build the best car you can afford.

2. Go into debt building a better car than you can afford, in the *HOPE* that the results will give you sponsors and constructor point money.

 

Enstone did option 2, for too many years.

 

Agree, although I don't like to moralize about this particular case. Lotus may have spent more than they had, but they got more out of their resources than the likes of Mclaren, Ferrari and arguably Mercedes did. And when "prize money" is determined to such an extent by the private deal you can cut with FOM, and not results on track, Lotus were perhaps always doomed.

 

You've got to wonder what the commercial department was doing under Genii leadership though. Then again, Brawn GP had a fast car, world championship, marketable drivers and huge feel-good story and they couldn't find the sponsorship to go racing after 2009 either.


Edited by Risil, 29 January 2014 - 10:34.


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#20 Jackmancer

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:34

Let's just wait until Melbourne. Last season was great for them, I think, at least on their budget. With Grosjean they still have a great driver. If they can deliver a good car, I don't think anything went truly wrong.



#21 Gorma

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 10:48

Hiring Kimi was not a mistake, but the way the contract was drawn up, was a mistake. As we know, salary was performance-based and Lotus underestimated the potential results. As a result they scored so many points which inflated the needed Kimi's salary so much it went through the roof.

I don't understand how Kimi or his salary has anything to do with the whole situation. First off all NO team would ever draw up a contract where one driver's performance would cost them more money than they would get from television rights. It is safe to say that Kimi's success made the team more money than Kimi's salary.  Secondly they didn't even pay Kimi, so how in the world does it matter any how. It's not liked they paid Kimi instead of suppliers or the staff. 



#22 fluffy38

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:10

Michelin's departure of F1...



#23 ViMaMo

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:11

:(  sad to see them in this state after getting good results. 

 

Williams ...... Lotus...... 



#24 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:26

Economics.

 

They, like everyone else, have been struggling to get sponsorship to sufficient numbers. But unlike Williams they haven't adjusted their spending to match. They went all or nothing, they're gettin damn close to nothing.



#25 MustangSally

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:35

 

You've got to wonder what the commercial department was doing under Genii leadership though. 

 

 

That is what one wonders. The car is already plastered in stickers, however. But in many cases, this doesn't seem like conventional sponsorship. It's all about 'partnering with Genii', whatever that means. The new Russian prospects have said the same.

 

Genii appears to collect the money and then lend (some of?) it to the team, which makes the team position worse, certainly on paper. It adds a debt-servicing cost at least. 

 

The teaser picture of the new Lotus featured YotaPhone on the front wing. But YotaPhone has stated that they are not sponsors, in fact it is their owner 'partnering with Genii'. So how does the team recoup the money for that space? The same could be said of carrying the Lotus logo for free.

 

The new Saxo bank arrangement is another example of 'partnering with Genii'. Whether there is a loan involved we don't know. It is ostensibly a VIP hospitality deal, with the bank having some opportunity to use its association with Lotus team in promotional activities.

 

Rather like that Midland guy, Genii is using Lotus as a kind of corporate dating agency. But the team is not seeing any benefit in the way it would with conventional sponsors. Look how few sponsors Williams and Sauber can still scrape by on. I think this arrangement only makes Lotus look bad. Is that necessary? Cynically, one could imagine that keeping Lotus well in the red is a good excuse for not paying people and deterring winding up orders, where everyone loses. Problem is, Lopez has probably come to the end  of this strategy to the point where everyone is ticked off.

 

Personally, I think that overspending is only half the story. 



#26 george1981

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:46

That team have been around for a long time and have had ups and downs as would be expected. They weren't doing that well in the late 90s after Michael Schumacher left and took a lot of the technical staff to Ferrari, Renault pulled out as a manufacturer etc. They managed to bounce back after Renault bought them.

I think their recent troubles are due the Genii's business plan. Genii wanted to buy the team cheaply when Renault wanted out, keep it ticking over for a short period of time and then sell on for a profit to another manufacturer. That hasn't worked for them and now they're running short of cash and eroding the value of the team.



#27 Nemo1965

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 15:16

That is what one wonders. The car is already plastered in stickers, however. But in many cases, this doesn't seem like conventional sponsorship. It's all about 'partnering with Genii', whatever that means. The new Russian prospects have said the same.

 

Genii appears to collect the money and then lend (some of?) it to the team, which makes the team position worse, certainly on paper. It adds a debt-servicing cost at least. 

 

The teaser picture of the new Lotus featured YotaPhone on the front wing. But YotaPhone has stated that they are not sponsors, in fact it is their owner 'partnering with Genii'. So how does the team recoup the money for that space? The same could be said of carrying the Lotus logo for free.

 

The new Saxo bank arrangement is another example of 'partnering with Genii'. Whether there is a loan involved we don't know. It is ostensibly a VIP hospitality deal, with the bank having some opportunity to use its association with Lotus team in promotional activities.

 

Rather like that Midland guy, Genii is using Lotus as a kind of corporate dating agency. But the team is not seeing any benefit in the way it would with conventional sponsors. Look how few sponsors Williams and Sauber can still scrape by on. I think this arrangement only makes Lotus look bad. Is that necessary? Cynically, one could imagine that keeping Lotus well in the red is a good excuse for not paying people and deterring winding up orders, where everyone loses. Problem is, Lopez has probably come to the end  of this strategy to the point where everyone is ticked off.

 

Personally, I think that overspending is only half the story. 

 

Excellent!



#28 saudoso

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 15:20

Michelin's departure of F1...

Yep, I stand corrected.

 

Michelin goes -> team loses performance -> desperates and pulls crashgate -> Bye Briatore -> Bye Renault -> keeps spiralling down.



#29 bobthewrestler

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 15:24

2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

I think you've probably hit the nail straight on the head there.



#30 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 15:50

It's not like other teams are signing major sponsors left and right, but Lotus are losing out because no one wants to touch them.



#31 InSearchOfThe

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 16:53

2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Plus the financial collapse scared ING to leave.

Renault bouncing in then out of control hurt stability also.



#32 Dolph

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 19:17

Back when the team was Benneton and it was winning the championships with huge backing from UCOB, and then as a works team under Renault with huge investment, and now to a team that is beaten by even Marrusia to testing, where did things fall apart for this team that could always produce respectable cars within budget? Their facitlies should be top notch thanks to the Renault investment, and they always looked to have a decent selection of sponsors... Their WDC positions would be in some serious cash too...

Was hiring Kimi a mistake? Sure it brought interest to the team, but his wages have obviously caused an issue, should Boullier have baulked at the wage demands and not brought him back?

Somewhere along the line this team has lost it's way and now is becoming a bit of a joke, and it's a shame.

It's high time they dropped the faux lotus moniker and became 'Team Enstone' and restore pride to the team!

 

I wholeheartedly agree. The team that one a race last year and took a total of 14 podiums is a complete and utter joke. :mad:
 

 

On the other hand only their 1994, 1995, 2005 and 2006 seasons were better. I'm confused now :drunk:


Edited by Dolph, 29 January 2014 - 19:20.


#33 DutchQuicksilver

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 19:21

If it wasn't for Kimi, Lotus would have finished 5th both in 2012 and 2013, which would have lost them championship money as well.

 

I think it went downhill already after 2006 when Alonso left. They had a slight improvement late 2008 with a few lucky wins, but nothing more.



#34 fabr68

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 19:28

Whomever wrote Raikkonen's contract paying terms.  They understimated both their car and Raikkonen.



#35 Fastcake

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 21:00

Genii spent far more money on Lotus than the team brought in, pure and simple. Had they lived within their means and most importantly paid their staff and suppliers on time, Lotus would be in the same boat as Force India or Williams. Which is not to say financially secure of course, but they would of kept the technical team intact and rumours of imminent collapse at bay.

 

As for Raikonen's contract, I wouldn't be too quick to ignore the many millions it was supposedly worth. There's the very real possibility that the cost of Kimi's contract exceeded the difference from Lotus' finishing higher in the championship, and they may well of been better off financially picking another pay driver and accepting the loss of results. Which, if true, would be a very telling state of affairs in modern Formula One...


Edited by Fastcake, 29 January 2014 - 21:01.


#36 sopa

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 21:07

First off all NO team would ever draw up a contract where one driver's performance would cost them more money than they would get from television rights. It is safe to say that Kimi's success made the team more money than Kimi's salary.  Secondly they didn't even pay Kimi, so how in the world does it matter any how. It's not liked they paid Kimi instead of suppliers or the staff. 

 

Hm, that's actually a good point.

 

However, midfield teams are often better off by hiring paydrivers, or like Lotus hired Grosjean and got Total's 10M € or whatever.

I think in some discussion we calculated that the amount of money bigger paydrivers bring, outweighs any potential loss in WCC standings. This is the strategy Lotus has now taken, and they have hired Maldonado. This route has been taken to stabilize the finances somewhat, let's see if it pays off.

 

As for Raikkonen improving Lotus' WCC position and hence money. They were fourth in both 2012 and 2013, but more importantly, with a HUGE advantage over fifth placed team. Based on that they would still have finished fourth if they had two Grosjeans in the team. Heck, Grosjean alone scored more points than McLaren in 2013.

 

But Kimi's alleged income COMBINED with bonuses was arguably somewhere in the region of 20M €. I am not sure, but this is a guesstimate. The difference between WCC positions could be somewhere between 5-10M €. So it is possible Lotus actually lost money by potentially gaining maybe one, maybe zero WCC positions. And with Kimi scoring in the region of 200 points, they had to pay him a huge bonus.

 

I don't know, what they expected. Had Raikkonen scored like Petrov/Heidfeld in 2011, something like 50 points, maybe they would have paid him 5Mil. And this would have made sense for Lotus. I think this is the kind of max salary Lotus should have aimed for when hiring Kimi, because he had been out of sport for two years and not in a strong position to negotiate a lucrative deal. After all, Raikkonen firstly had to prove himself on track that he has still got it. Lotus had the chance to get him for bargain, but it didn't work out.

 

 

 

All in all, Raikkonen's deal of course is not the main reason of Lotus' fall. But I think it is interesting to discuss about the deal and what Lotus has done wrong with it - it could possibly highlight some of Lotus' miscalculations in their financial planning. Which was not only reflected in drawing up Kimi's deal, but elsewhere too, which is why their financial plan for F1 in general hasn't worked out. Kimi's deal is just a (small) part of it, but still gives an insight into Lotus' strategies.

 

We know that Red Bull has been paying relatively small salaries to both Webber and Vettel. Small compared to other champions like Alonso or Hamilton. I think RBR is a good example of efficient use of money in this context.


Edited by sopa, 29 January 2014 - 21:20.


#37 Module

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 21:21


But Kimi's alleged income COMBINED with bonuses was arguably somewhere in the region of 20M €. I am not sure, but this is a guesstimate. The difference between WCC positions could be somewhere between 5-10M €. So it is possible Lotus actually lost money by potentially gaining maybe one, maybe zero WCC positions. And with Kimi scoring in the region of 200 points, they had to pay him a huge bonus.

As the subject is what went wrong this is irrelevant as they haven't paid and even 2012 Kimi settled for less than he should have had. Kimi isn't the cause of Lotus financial situation but more a proof of what actualy is wrong for the moment, Lotus spending and making deals they can't afford and not being able to convert results to money.



#38 sopa

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 21:34

As the subject is what went wrong this is irrelevant as they haven't paid and even 2012 Kimi settled for less than he should have had. Kimi isn't the cause of Lotus financial situation but more a proof of what actualy is wrong for the moment, Lotus spending and making deals they can't afford and not being able to convert results to money.

 

Yes, Kimi's deal is not at fault, what went wrong for Lotus. But the second sentence is pretty much what I am aiming to say. Dealings with Kimi is just as an example of how Lotus has been generally operating and midjudged, what they can afford and what not, and which consequences all of this will have.

 

Anyway, Lotus is rumoured to have something in the region of 114M $ debt. Is Kimi's salary part of it too? Because if they haven't paid Kimi, it doesn't mean they don't have the responsibility to do it - it would be accumulated in debt.



#39 Amphicar

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 21:34

Beginning of the end, for sure.

 

The problem the last few years begins with a G and ends with an I.

Hey now - don't go blaming the late, great Andy Granatelli - there was a guy that knew how to run a race team - and keep the sponsors happy:

 

Andy-Granatelli-2.jpg