Lotus deny report they could be part of a three-team boycott of the U.S. GP
Enstone team say claim is "news to us"; Smaller teams angered by plight of Caterham and Marussia and want changes to F1's revenue-sharing structure
By James Galloway in Austin
Last Updated: 03/11/14 6:16pm
Lotus have dismissed reports suggesting they could boycott this weekend’s United States GP along with Sauber and Force India in protest at F1’s growing cost crisis.
At the end of a Friday in Austin in which debate over the financial health of the sport’s teams was thrust firmly into the spotlight by a heated Team Principals’ press conference and Bernie Ecclestone’s comments to Sky F1, a report in The Times claimed that the trio of midfield outfits were in talks about potentially pulling out of this weekend’s race.
However, Lotus have reacted with surprise to the claims and described the report as “news to us”.
The Enstone team also tweeted: “For an absence of doubt, we will be racing on Sunday. That's kinda why we're here.”
Earlier on Friday and the Team Principals of the three outfits at the centre of the report – Lotus, Force India and Sauber – had sat alongside each other in what turned into a heated hour-long press conference dominated by arguments over F1’s financial model.
Sitting behind their counterparts from Mercedes and McLaren, two of F1’s most well-funded teams, the trio of chiefs argued for the grid’s smaller outfits to receive a greater share of the sport’s prize money revenues. The long-running debate has been fuelled by debt-laden backmarkers Marussia and Caterham both falling into administration last week.
Lotus co-owner and team boss Gerard Lopez was particularly outspoken on the matter, criticising teams such as Ferrari which receive additional payments to reflect their importance to the sport, while also calling for immediate action to safeguard the grid’s smaller outfits.
“Now is the time to say things as they are. Number one – the distribution of all the revenues is completely wrong,” Lopez said.
“Whether the size of what is distributed or not is debatable, but when you have teams getting more money just for showing up than some teams spend in an entire season something is entirely wrong with the system. So that cannot be allowed to happen.
“And now is not the time to be talking about, but to be acting about it, so we will see what happens in the next couple of weeks.”
Lopez also hit out at the cost required to participate in F1 even after the introduction of 'greener' engines at the start of 2014.
"This is an odd sport. We say things and then we tend to do the opposite," he continued. "I’ll just give one example. The birth of the new engines happened when we started talking about cutting costs and so forth. The fact is that the new engine, which from a technology perspective is a great thing, the costs were passed on to all the teams. In our case this year, between the engine and development we probably spent something like US$50-60 million. That’s not cost cutting in our books, that’s essentially throwing money out the window.
"It’s all good and fun and so on to say that you shouldn’t spend more than what you what you have or not. But at the end of the day, certain decisions on budget are forced up on you. Just by the fact that that’s what the market is giving you."