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Lotus says Venezuelan backing will keep them on track

LONDON (Reuters) - The backing of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA will keep Lotus on the track this season, Lotus chairman Gerard Lopez said, playing down fears over the financial health of the Formula One team.

Lotus, who had financial problems last season but finished fourth overall, will miss the first test of the season in Spain at the end of the month.

Concern over the future of the team intensified when it was

billed as subject to confirmation in an entry list issued by the International Automobile Federation for the coming season.

"Nothing has changed. We'll be there," Lopez told Germany's auto motor und sport website.

"We have a full budget for 2014 with our new sponsor PDVSA, We won't run up any more debts," he added.

PDVSA switched its sponsorship to Lotus from Williams after Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado moved between the teams at the end of last season.

Lopez said talks with potential investors Quantum Motorsports about taking a stake in the team had broken off and that his Genii Capital firm would cover the deficit for last season.

"The Quantum money never arrived. We broke things off with them," he said.

The Formula One team had announced last June the sale of a 35 percent stake to Quantum - a consortium of private investors, including an Abu Dhabi-based multinational group - that would have put them on a secure financial footing.

The financial problems facing Lotus were laid bare at the end of last season when driver Kimi Raikkonen said he not been paid. Raikkonen, the 2007 champion, has now joined Ferrari.

"He's got part of his salary and he'll get the rest too," Lopez said.

(Writing by Keith Weir, editing by Ed Osmond)

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