The Lotus F1 Team has just announced a new – and certainly much-needed – sponsorship deal with Saxo Bank, the online Danish investment bank.
While the terms of the new deal remain under wraps, the news will be welcomed by many at Enstone, given the team’s well-known financial plight in the wake of the failed partial takeover by the Quantum Investment consortium last year.
The team was forced to take on the services of pay-driver Pastor Maldonado and his $40-million-a-year PDVSA dowry in order to shore up its finances, although that still hasn’t been enough to ensure its 2014 racer will be ready in time for the start of pre-season testing next week.
The team’s books indicate it is over £100 million in debt, although much of that is owed to the team’s owner, Genii Capital, which itself owes money to the team’s former owner, Proton (the parent company to Group Lotus), which bankrolled a $50 million debt a few years ago.
Founded in 1992, Saxo Bank supports online brokerage and White Label solutions for the likes of Microsoft and Barclays. It has a market value of over 20 billion Danish Krone (AU$4 billion).
“We are delighted to begin a relationship with Saxo Bank, a fast-growing online trading and investment specialist who have demonstrated strong support in sport through sponsorships in the world of cycling at the highest level with Team Tinkoff-Saxo,” Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier said of the team’s latest sponsorship acquisition.
The sponsorship deal is expected to be followed by a further announcement that Danish Formula Renault 3.5 racer Marco Sørensen could join the team as a test or reserve driver.
Twenty-three-year-old Sørensen (pictured) has been part of the Renault Driver Development Programme since 2009. A runner-up in the 2011 German Formula 3 Championship, Sørensen has spent the last two years racing in Lotus’ Formula Renault 3.5 team, claiming three race wins and six podium finishes. He had a one-off outing for the team last year in an older-spec Lotus F1 car at the Circuit Paul Ricard.