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.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.