Troubled Lotus insist everything is under control

Romain Grosjean finished third at the Belgian Grand Prix but the team's cars were impounded. Lotus say the dispute, part of a legal action brought by former reserve driver Charles Pic, has been resolved.
Romain Grosjean finished third at the Belgian Grand Prix but the team's cars were impounded. Lotus say the dispute, part of a legal action brought by former reserve driver Charles Pic, has been resolved.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Financially troubled Lotus have urged fans to ignore any "negative rumours" swirling around the Formula One team ahead of this week's Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix.

The British-based outfit, who are hoping former owner Renault will retake control, have faced numerous legal obstacles this season with the latest being an action by Britain's tax authorities.

An application in the London High Court last Monday by the Revenue and Customs authority to have Lotus put into administration was adjourned till Friday, when practice starts under the Marina Bay Street Circuit's floodlights.

Before that, Lotus had their cars impounded by bailiffs in Belgium - where Frenchman Romain Grosjean finished third - and blamed a banking hitch for suppliers Pirelli withholding tyres before practice in Hungary.

"They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I can confirm that the team are very much alive but we have been going through a very strenuous workout programme this season," commented deputy principal Federico Gastaldi.

"Things have certainly been tight and we've embraced the Japanese just-in-time philosophy a little too literally on occasions. All this has been necessary but we keep fighting the good fight.

"We believe in the team; we believe in Formula One and we believe we'll still be here fighting for the rest of this season and beyond.

"Don't believe any of the negative rumours you hear."

Lotus say the Belgian problem, involving a dispute with French former reserve driver Charles Pic, has been resolved and the High Court hearing will also be settled.

"I can positively say that process will be dealt with before it gets back in front of the judge," chief executive Matthew Carter told autosport.com.

"Nobody wants the team to head into insolvency, so it's just a question of making sure people get paid and things are done in the right way," he added.

Gastaldi, in a preview for this week's race in Singapore, said everything was under control. He said all sponsors and partners had paid on time and some in advance.

Renault's return, to a team they sold after a Singapore GP race-fixing scandal in 2009, would be welcomed with open arms "but until any deal is signed, sealed and delivered, we keep focused on our current tasks".

Meanwhile, Mark Webber has no doubt that Renault and former F1 champions Red Bull are heading for a divorce and he is not in the least surprised.

"Red Bull want to win. They have won a lot in the past and their patience now is obviously over.

"And they want to change," the Australian driver, who left Red Bull and the sport at the end of 2013 after winning nine grands prix, said.

"So, yeah, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull Racing believe that's their best option."

Red Bull, winners of four drivers' and constructors' championships in a row between 2010 and 2013, have been eclipsed by Mercedes since the introduction last year of the V6 turbo hybrid power units.

Renault's lack of performance has led to the relationship being pushed to breaking point, with the French manufacturers now assessing whether to buy Lotus or depart while Red Bull sound out alternatives.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 13, 2015, with the headline 'Troubled Lotus insist everything is under control'. Print Edition | Subscribe