Lotus boss says majority of F1 teams battling funding issues

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Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez (pictured) has told a Russian website that he believes most of the Formula One paddock is dealing with financial issues, declaring that “for 80 percent of the teams, their financial situation is no better than ours.”

The cost of doing business in the world’s most popular motorsport has become a very big problem to the smaller teams. A cost cap is set to debut in 2015, but considering the amount of spending that is done by the bigger teams like World Champion Red Bull, one may have the sense of “I’ll believe it when I see it” when it comes to that initiative.

This past year, Lotus was in the headlines for its money woes as they were for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean’s exploits on the track. However, Lopez noted to F1News.ru that with the global economy still limping along, teams have been forced to abandon the usual investment/sponsorship route.

“I can go to potential investors and say ‘I want to sell millions of cars running on renewable energy and hybrid technology’ and they tell me ‘Wow! Let’s see what we can do!,” he said to the Russian site.

“But if I say that I want money for F1, to participate in one of the biggest sporting events in the world, you don’t get the same answer.”

And with that comes the side effect of choosing drivers on the amount of funding they bring to the table instead of on pure talent.

Lotus can certainly relate, as team principal Eric Bouiller has said that Pastor Maldonado’s extensive sponsorship played a role in him gaining their second race seat alongside Grosjean in 2014.

Plans for Alonso sports car debut in Rolex 24 gathering speed

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Plans for McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso to appear in next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona are gathering speed as the two-time World Champion angles for a drive at Le Mans in 2018.

Alonso announced on Thursday he had signed a new, multi-year deal to remain with McLaren in F1, but has left the door open to continue his pursuit of the Triple Crown of Motorsport and become just the second driver in history to complete it.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice and made his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, retiring with an engine issue, and has made no secret of his ambition to race at Le Mans one day.

With no date clashes, the possibility exists for Alonso to race at Le Mans in 2018, potentially with Toyota in the LMP1 class following McLaren’s split with Honda.

However, Alonso could make his 24-hour race debut five months earlier, with reports emerging on Thursday that he could be in line to appear in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

First reported by Sportscar365, Alonso could be set to race for McLaren executive director Zak Brown’s team, United Autosports, at Daytona in January, with no clashes existing with his F1 commitments.

Alonso remained coy when asked about the chances of him appearing at Daytona, but admitted additional preparation for a possible Le Mans appearance would be of interest.

“For the Indy 500 it was a nice experience, I felt very competitive but it was a big challenge that I took from zero, from no testing, not any similar race before it,” Alonso said, as quoted by Reuters.

“If I want to prepare Le Mans, maybe there are other possibilities to prepare Le Mans a little bit better than I prepared the Indy 500.”

He added more about his other race program in Thursday’s pre-race Paddock Pass episode, speaking to NBCSN. “To be the best driver in the world you have to win in different series at different times. It’s possible I can compete in different races next year,” he said.

Brown said he would be happy to field Alonso at Daytona, and confirmed their pair had already loosely discussed it.

“If Fernando wants to do Daytona and we have a seat available, we would put his name on it happily,” Brown said.

“We’ve started joking around about it, and we saw where jokes got us last time,” he added, referencing the eventual entry to the Indy 500.

United Autosports will field two JS P217 cars at Daytona in January, and has already confirmed ex-F1 racer Paul di Resta, McLaren junior Lando Norris, American endurance racer Will Owen and Danish youngster Philip Hanson in seats.

McLaren reserve and 2009 F1 world champion Jenson Button had been linked with a drive for United Autosports at Daytona, but Brown confirmed to Sportscar365 this was no longer an option.

“Jenson won’t be driving for us. I don’t know what he’s going to be doing,” Brown said.

“I thought he was going to be in the Penske car. Not sure what happened there.”