Lotus locked out of hospitality at Suzuka ahead of Japanese Grand Prix
The team are already subject to tax cases that could see them go into administration, and there is talk of a Renault buyout.
Problems continue for British team Lotus, who today found themselves locked out of their hospitality area at the Suzuka circuit, due to host the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend. The embattled team have had persistent financial issues, and this is the latest in a series of problems for the team.
The team's freight was late to arrive to the venue, with personnel unable to enter the hospitality unit, which was locked and chained when the team arrived at the venue.
Lotus sea freight delivered this afternoon. It contained items like oil and hydraulic fluid, team had already borrowed some from rivals— Adam Cooper (@adamcooperF1) September 24, 2015
Although the team recently renewed the contract of Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado, who is sponsored by Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, they are still subject to persistent rumours of a buyover from French automakers Renault, whose engines the team have used in the past.
Renault were previously a works team in F1, with Fernando Alonso winning both his world championships with them. They last raced in 2010.
Lotus also need to find a second driver; although Maldonado has seen his contract renewed, his consistently better-performing teammate Romain Grosjean is set to leave the team at the end of this year. He is strongly tipped to take a seat at Haas F1, the newest entrant into the Formula One fray, founded by Gene Haas. The team received its FIA approval a few months ago, and will be the only American team in the sport.
Sergio Perez was also tipped for a seat at the team, but it was announced earlier today that the 25-year-old has had his own contract renewed by Force India, with whom he has been for the past 3 years. He will continue to partner World Endurance Championships winner Nico Hulkenberg at the team, which is currently at 5th in the constructors’ standings.
Lotus are also subject to a case brought by HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs), which is responsible for UK Taxes, over unpaid tax bills that are said to be significant enough to “send the team into administration.” The final hearing on that case is set for the 28th of September – the day after the Japanese Grand Prix.
Lotus begin work on kitting out their hospitality in Suzuka, after more money-related delays pic.twitter.com/BbsdlAt7aK— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) September 24, 2015
UPDATE: The team have since been granted access, although they continue to have financial issues. Although talk of a Renault buyout is strengthening, there has been no confirmation from either.