Lotus Team Principal Says 'Business Is Good' As Concerns About F1's Financial Health Grow
With the increasing costs facing F1 teams threatening the economic viability of the sport, Lotus F1 Team Principal Eric Boullier told SBD Global that "everything is positive now, and the building of the business is good." Boullier, whose driver Kimi Räikkönen won the '13 season opening Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia on Sunday, said F1's global expansion has been a "very positive" development for teams in their pursuit for revenue. He said that entering new markets, such as the racing series' return to the U.S., have helped to make "our life better" commercially. Boullier told SBD Global, "We can prospect in different countries and our team has, for example, a lot of American-based sponsors. It just makes the audience of F1 a little bit wider. You get in contact with some new corporation, new business, that wants to see what is F1, and how to use F1 as a marketing platform." He specifically cited the company's relationship with Coca-Cola as a result of F1's return to the U.S. market. In November, Lotus signed a multi-year sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola. It was a first for the soft drink giant, whose energy drink brand Burn is featured on the '13 Lotus car as well as driver and team outfit. Boullier credits F1's global format for the team's ability to land sponsorship deals such as Coca-Cola. He said, "There is no other global sport like F1. I see only [positives] because today every business in the world tends to be global, and you need to have a global support. We have a lot of contacts. Many sponsors have joined us, some new ones, and some investors too, so it’s good." But Boullier would not reveal any other new deals or specific financial benefits of the series’ foray into new markets. Recently, Boullier's McLaren counterpart, Martin Whitmarsh, said "of the 11 teams, seven of them are in survival strategy." While Boullier does not dispute Whitmarsh's comments, he said F1's global expansion has helped the team land new sponsors, such as Coke. Boullier said, "We have to move into new markets on top of the current ones. We have to develop a new marketing strategy, but we have a lot of companies we are working with that are interested to be back in F1, to use the drivers and F1 platform for sponsorship and marketing activation. There is a lot to come."