Lotus F1 endeavour not a failure, says Gerard Lopez

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Luxembourg entrepreneur and former Lotus F1 co-owner Gerard Lopez believes that in hindsight, his involvement in F1 was 'not a failure'.

Lopez and partner Eric Lux, through their Genii Capital entity, sold Lotus F1 to Renault at the end of 2015, apparently for a symbolic single Euro.

But Lopez, who is now investing in the LOSC Lille football club, disagrees with those who say the investment was a flop.

"My foray with Lotus was not a failure," Lopez told French agency AFP.

"We took over the team by investing EUR 40 million in debt repurchasing and saved 450 jobs. The team had no sponsors but we attracted many of them.

"But when we reached an operational equilibrium, the costs exploded and the sponsors left. We could have closed but we decided to sell, to save 540 employees.

"The team had no debts to its suppliers when we sold to Renault. There was EUR 130 million in debt but that was to the shareholders," he insisted.

By shareholders ย Lopez means Genii Capital, which has retained a small stake in the Enstone-based outfit for no other purpose than to one day attempt to get its money back.

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    Lopez also denied that he left F1 owing wages to team staff.

    "Despite what I have read, Bernie Ecclestone did not take money out of his pocket to pay wages. Lotus was entitled to that money, which was used in part to pay wages."

Under Genii capital's guidance, Lotus did succeed in winning two races, in Abu Dhabi in 2012 and in Melbourne in 2013, both with Kimi Raikkonen behind the wheel.

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