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.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Sebastien Bourdais

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. A dream start occurred for Sebastien Bourdais and the Dale Coyne Racing team upon their reunion, followed by a nightmare in Indianapolis with a huge crash in qualifying, and ended with a rapid recovery to build confidence for 2018.

Sebastien Bourdais, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda

  • 2016: 14th Place, 1 Win, Best Start 3rd, 1 Podium, 3 Top-5, 11 Top-10, 24 Laps Led, 11.9 Avg. Start, 11.2 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 21st Place (8 Starts), 1 Win, Best Start 6th, 2 Podiums, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 74 Laps Led, 12.4 Avg. Start, 11.0 Avg. Finish

The 2017 campaign for Sebastien Bourdais upon his return to Dale Coyne Racing will forever be known as both a year of “what could have been” and a year of “what a comeback it was.”

The abnormal season for Bourdais stretched eight races with a three-month break in the middle owing to his own mistake qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, which left him with multiple pelvic fractures and a fracture to his right hip. His car was a rocket ship; but after two laps at 231 mph, Bourdais appeared to over-correct and destroyed the wall at Turn 2 in Indy in a massive 127G impact. It was a horrific looking accident, but one that also saw Bourdais rather lucky to have not been injured worse.

It set forth in motion an incredible recovery that saw Bourdais back testing the Monday after Mid-Ohio, just over two months since the accident, then in race action just over three months later at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, and because Bourdais is a regulation badass, he finished in the top-10 straight out of the box. He worked as hard as he did to return earlier than anticipated to avoid an offseason of questions asking if he’d come back and if he’d be strong enough to do so.

The recovery was a welcome story to end the year after the agony at Indy that stopped a potential title run or certainly top-five in points finish in its tracks. A classic Coyne strategy special vaulted Bourdais from last to first and a popular win in his U.S. hometown of St. Petersburg to kick off the year. A second place at Long Beach backed it up and eighth at Barber kept him atop the standings.

But Indy was shaping up to be an important bounce back weekend after Bourdais got taken out in Phoenix, then incurred an engine failure in the IMS road course race. And then, of course, his loud and violent accident qualifying for the ‘500 changed the course of the season.

After three “almost there” but largely unfulfilling years at KV Racing Technology, Bourdais embraced the family atmosphere back at Coyne along with longtime engineers Craig Hampson and Olivier Boisson, determined to continue punching above the team’s weight. He crafted a remarkable story all season and will be keen to fulfill it over the course of a proper full campaign in 2018.