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JANUARY 18, 2017

Lotus F1 foray not a failure says Lopez

Former F1 team owner Gerard Lopez has defended his record in the sport, insisting the Lotus foray was "not a failure".

The Luxembourg entrepreneur, who is now buying the French football club Losc Lille, sold the Enstone based Lotus team to Renault at the end of 2015 for a symbolic single Euro.

But Lopez told the French news agency AFP: "My foray with Lotus was not a failure.

"We took over the team by investing EUR 40 million in debt repurchasing and saved 450 jobs," said Lopez.

"The team had no sponsors but we attracted many of them," he added.

"But when we reached an operational equilibrium, the costs exploded and the sponsors left. We could have closed but we decided to sell, to save 540 employees," said Lopez.

"The team had no debts to its suppliers when we sold to Renault. There was EUR 130 million in debt but that was to the shareholders," he insisted.

Lopez also denied that he left F1 owing wages to team staff.

He continued: "Despite what I have read, Bernie Ecclestone did not take money out of his pocket to pay wages. Lotus was entitled to that money, which was used in part to pay wages."

(GMM)