Lotus plays down Räikkönen divide
1 November 2013 – Gerard Lopez, head of Lotus team owners Genii Capital, has moved to play down suggestions of a divide with Kimi Räikkönen, describing their relationship as "good".
Heading into this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the spotlight has been on both parties after a heated team radio exchange in India, during which Räikkönen was ordered to "move out of the f***ing way" as team-mate Romain Grosjean closed in.
But although Räikkönen is believed to have been heavily frustrated by the situation, Lopez says it does not ruin a rapport that has been steadily built up over two seasons.
"Good. I speak with Kimi more than a lot of people probably realise and we rarely speak about Formula 1," said Lopez, when asked about the current situation. "Of course, recently a lot was made about the comments between Alan Permane and Kimi during the course of a tense moment in a race, but this was just one exchange taking a matter of seconds in the course of a two-year relationship.
"It wasn't the most beneficial few seconds, but you have to step back and accept that everyone is passionate about racing and sometimes these things do happen."
Lopez went on to discuss the planned investment deal with Quantam Motorsports, initially outlined back in June when the group was known as Infinity Racing. Although it could not be signed in time to secure Räikkönen's services for the 2014 campaign, it should allow the outfit to hire desired replacement Nico Hülkenberg from Sauber.
"We have preliminary agreements with the company we want to partner with, and we're just waiting for this to be concluded," said Lopez, discussing the ongoing negotiation process. "This is a very detailed process. The history is that we decided to offer a minority stake to an investor. We consider this approach as the best way forwards, just like any other Formula 1 Team.
"Deals like this do not move at the speed we're used to in Formula 1 and we're hopeful that we'll conclude it in the near future. With our current performance on track and the fact that there are very few Formula 1 teams that can offer an investment opportunity like we do we are constantly being contacted by interested parties, but for now we are pursuing our preferred option."
If the deal does not come off, Lotus is expected to sign Pastor Maldonado alongside Romain Grosjean, with the Williams driver possessing substantial PDVSA backing.