Lotus team boss Eric Boullier concedes Kimi Raikkonen's departure will hurt their image, but insists they will overcome that on the long term.
After two relatively successful years with Lotus, Raikkkonen will rejoin Ferrari at the end of this year with the Finn admitting the reason he left "are purely on the money side and I haven't got my salary".
His comments haven't gone down well at Enstone, but Boullier is determined to look to the future and keep the team on the right track.
"It is hurting in terms of our image, because the combination of Kimi and Lotus F1 - on-track and off-track - as a brand was a perfect fit, right down to the black livery," he told the official Formula One website.
"Kimi is a personality, he's a character, and he's got charisma and he's a fast driver who delivers on a Sunday. But then again we are not on a one-year plan - we have to look at the next five years and then Kimi's departure probably becomes less crucial."
Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa have been mentioned as possible replacements, but Boullier insists they won't go for the driver who brings the most money.
"It would have zero effect on our decision. I want to choose the driver on merit and not on money."
He added: "We need a name - and if we cannot get a name for next year we have to work on our longer term plan and make our own name."
Boullier also explained the reason why Raikkonen hasn't been paid
"The strategy behind the team was to build the team up and bring it back as a top team," he revealed. "Genii gives us the means to achieve that, but obviously to go to the next level you need more means and more resources and it is no secret that for quite a while Genii have been looking for partners to make sure that we can bring more money to the team and have access to a bigger sponsor portfolio.
"We need to secure sponsors, as this is the only way to step up. Formula One depends massively on the people - and to attract the best people to a team you need to have money, to be able to build something for the long term. Genii's plan was to bring the team up within five years - which we are trying to do - but to move to the next step you need another five-year plan in place. And that is what we are working on."