FEBRUARY 14, 2015
Renault not solely to blame for 2014 says Lopez
It is clear there is little love lost between Lotus and its former engine supplier.
The Enstone team, fourth overall in 2012 and 2013, slumped to an horror eighth in the constructors' standings last year.
Owner Gerard Lopez does not entirely blame Renault, but he is hopeful a much brighter future awaits with new customer Mercedes power.
"Our new Mercedes engine will make the difference," the Luxembourger told France's Auto Hebdo, "although Renault was not solely to blame for the disastrous 2014 season."
Indeed, Lopez does admit Lotus itself must shoulder some blame.
He revealed to the publication that having shed 100 staff a year ago, Lotus has now rebuilt with 50 new signings, "mainly in aerodynamics and CFD".
"There was so much written about good people leaving," said Lopez, "but what is true is that the technical team that was responsible for the 2012 and 2013 cars, apart from a few famous departures, is intact.
"We paid the price and we learned," he added, referring again to the awful 2014 season.
"Not the number of employees, but the efficiency of the work. I know teams with 850 employees who did not manage for years what others with 500 employees have done."
But Lopez is also critical of Renault, who after the Lotus split and the Caterham collapse are now supplying only the Red Bull-owned teams.
"It would have been useful for them," said Lopez, looking back to 2014, "not to focus their efforts on just one team."
With Mercedes power, Lotus is now hoping to rebuild in 2015, and the driver feedback about the tidy new Mercedes-powered E23 has been positive so far.
"It's a less aggressive approach," Lopez revealed.
"This is not only because we went too far with the E22, but we also scored an own goal with developments favouring better top speed."