Lotus team principal Eric Boullier says the team prioritized paying “suppliers and key people” over Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen cited the delay in receiving his payments as one of the reasons why he has left the team to join Ferrari.
“It is public knowledge by now that we’ve been late in paying him, and he got upset,” Boullier told the official Formula One website.
Boullier said the team faced a cash-flow problem – which had also happened the year before:
“You have to decide where you want to spend your money. Our suppliers and key people who develop the car were our priority – maybe not Kimi. But Kimi was in a similar position last year and it was all settled by the end of the year. And Genii had the plan to do the same this year.”
Boullier was placed in charge of the team by Genii in 2010, when it was Renault. “The strategy behind the team was to build the team up and bring it back as a top team,” he explained.
“Genii gives us the means to achieve that, but obviously to go to the next level you need more means and more resources and it is no secret that for quite a while Genii have been looking for partners to make sure that we can bring more money to the team and have access to a bigger sponsor portfolio.
“We need to secure sponsors, as this is the only way to step up.”
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 9th
Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.
Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.
Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.
Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.
Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.
Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.
Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.