Lotus boss Gerard Lopez has insisted the Enstone team chose not to go to Jerez two weeks ago and was not forced to by financial issues.
The issues the Enstone team are experiencing internally remain well documented, with Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and Davide Valsecchi going unpaid in 2013. A reported deal with a consortium known as Quantum Racing failed and the well-backed Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado had to be drafted in to fill a financial hole.
Despite most believing finance was a key part of Lotus’s decision to stay in the UK amid continued employee resignations, including that of team boss Eric Boullier, Lopez claims it was simply a strategical decision not to go to Jerez.
“We said that there would be some (technical) trouble and it was actually the case,” the Luxembourgish chief told France’s Infosport Plus.
“I know we had a lot of criticism, people said we lack the budget but that is wrong because it cost us the same to go (to Jerez) a week later,” Lopez insisted.
Indeed on Saturday the E22 finally completed its first meaningful run on a racetrack, though it is believed lap times were well off those posted by rivals last week. Despite that, Lopez is heralding the test as the team seemed to suffer fewer problems than the other Renault powered teams had a week earlier.
“Maybe we are better prepared,” said Lopez.
“Maybe our strategy to wait and work at the factory was the better one.
“We will see in Bahrain. We will not mention the others, or at least not as much as they mention us.”
Meanwhile as the team look to find a full-time replacement for the McLaren bound Eric Boullier, the former Peugeot and Citreon rally chief Olivier Quesnel has confirmed his candidacy.
“I will not pretend that I am not interested,” said Quesnel.
“From what I understand, there is a shortlist that I appear to be on.”
Though talks continue between Quesnel and the Luxembourger Lopez, other names, including former McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh, remain in the hat.
“Nothing is done,” said Lopez. “The only thing I cannot hide is that Olivier Quesnel is on the list.
“We know he has succeeded at the highest level. Each (of the candidates) has their strengths, but all three have few weaknesses,” he added.
“We need to make a decision quickly, because we have things to prepare. It will be at the latest within a week, ten days.”
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