Lopez: Crowdfunding a sad narrative on F1

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Caterham’s idea of crowdfunding their way back to the grid in Abu Dhabi has reached £1,346,851 in donations but some have criticized the move. Namely the use of the donations was immediately called into question with the team having to address that it would be used for arrears salaries etc.

An interesting story today at AUTOSPORT has Lotus boss Gerard Lopez suggesting that the entire notion of a team having to Crowdfund is just a sad narrative on Formula 1 as a whole:

“It’s a one off and I think it’s sad,” he said. “If you think about what it’s being used for.

“Formula 1, which is a 1.6 billion dollar business, and distributes over $900 million, and we’re being asked if crowdfunding is a good idea to bring a team back. Seriously?

“Then it’s even more disastrous than I think it is, in terms of ethics.”

“A team principal came to me and was laughing about the crowdfunding thing,” he said.

“I think it’s pretty sad. I think it’s pretty telling about the sport when people are laughing about that kind of stuff.”

While I’m not a huge fan of the idea, I understand why they are trying because there are a lot of fans who miss the green cars, drivers and the team personnel on the grid. Just the same way that we miss Marussia.

Fans also are weary of hearing the have’s complain about the have-yachts in a $1.6 billion sport. They are weary of a one-team series and would like to see competitive racing return the series and some semblance of financial stability.

If you juxtapose those desires with all of the machinations F1 has proffered—new individual team deals with the commercial rights owners, DRS, hybrid engines, high-degradation tires, increased points system, double-points race—you start to get the impression that none of this is working.

Sure, you can pick out elements of these changes that might be good but in the grand scheme of things, all combined, they’ve failed. Whether you agree with the Crowdfunding or not, Lopez may be right—it’s a sad narrative.

Once again, we seem to all be avoiding the elephant in the room but Lopez, refreshingly, told AUTOSPORT what it was:

“We don’t control that cost basis,” he said. “I can only decide to make less wings [for aerodynamic developments], which we do.

“But I cannot decide the [cost of the] total engine package, which is 40 million Euros, which used to be eight million. I can’t decide to change that.

“I actually voted against the engines, so how can I be made responsible for this situation?”

“The finger should point at other teams who are unwilling to change the system,” said an angry Lopez, who has led talks with Ecclestone to try to find a solution.

“Nobody speaks about that. Nobody speaks about the fact we never asked for more money: we asked for less costs. And now we are being finger-pointed to solve it differently.

“Well, charge us a normal amount of money to be here. We are promoting people who are getting more money by promoting the engines. It’s quite ridiculous we are having this discussion.”

It is a scathing focus on what truly has represented the crisis. Some fans have suggested that it is a sign of the changing times and that this is road car relevant—never mind that McLaren had to go to their road car division for the tech and gray matter on hybrids and not the other way around—and at some level you can understand that technology and new, innovative way to race would be a part of F1. The question is, can F1 afford the changing times and still retain privateers?


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