They may be the first to complain about the higher costs of modern F1, but smaller teams are also to blame for the critical financial situation.
That is the claim of former Lotus chief executive Partick Louis, who revealed that the team’s financial problems were the only reason why Pastor Maldonado was signed ahead of Nico Hulkenberg for 2014.
“The (financial) situation in Formula One is clear and if there is no response, the sport will eventually decay by a shrinking field of starters,” he told the German-language website motorsport-magazin.com.
Louis added that while teams who are behind them on the grid like to portray an image of being forgotten as the leading outfits spend hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact it is their own uncontrolled spending that is key in driving up costs.
He said that these teams stay in five-star hotels, which ”from a business perspective is absolute nonsense”, he claimed.
Then there is the issue of salaries, perhaps the biggest problem for smaller teams but in fact Louis explained the smaller teams were paying wages much higher than some big teams.
“A person who was strategically very important for us and was in the salary range of £90-100k a year was lured from us with £180,000,” said Louis.
Even a factory employee earning around £30k at Enstone was attracted to a team “far behind” on the grid by an increased salary.
Louis said those teams then complain about escalating costs “That they themselves have driven”.
“For me, it’s economic suicide,” he added.
It is this sort of explicit spending that Louis claims drove Lotus into the financial situation it is in and led to the decision to sign the strongly backed Maldonado and his $40m in funds from PDVSA ahead of the non-backed Hulkenberg.
“At some point you have to make a decision and accept that as a team you need to get a budget together,” he explained.
“For me, Hulkenberg is an excellent driver. One of the few talents there are.
“I’m not saying that we made compromises, but we decided to invest more time in a driver (Maldonado) who to a large extent is comparable with where Romain Grosjean was with us in 2012.
“He (Grosjean) was criticised, we were called completely crazy to keep him, and now the same people are saying he’s a great driver,” Louis said.
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