May 11 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Big paddock rumours are swirling around the future of F1’s Enstone team.
Once Ayrton Senna’s first team, Toleman, the outfit subsequently became title winning Benetton and Renault, before Kimi Raikkonen won races in the current black and gold ‘Lotus’ guise.
But Finn Raikkonen departed after bitterly revealing he was not being paid, and rumours of financial trouble have struck again, despite the millions brought to the team by the well-connected Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado.
Lotus appeared to have been left stranded as the team that has not paid disgruntled engine supplier Renault so far in 2014, after fellow customers Toro Rosso and Caterham insisted all their invoices are up to date.
But a Lotus spokesman said in Barcelona: “We have an agreement with Renault for the payment of our power unit for 2014. We are 100 per cent up to date with our agreement.”
Nevertheless, the rumour mill was already shifting gear, as reports on British television Sky emerged that Gene Haas – F1’s next team owner – is set to visit Enstone.
Some have suggested the Californian may have listened to the critics and acknowledged that basing his new team in the United States might not be a good idea.
One such critic is Toro Rosso team chief Franz Tost, who said in Spain: “I would not like to do that to be honest.
“Getting highly-skilled technical people to Italy is one of the main problems for Toro Rosso! These people prefer to stay in England, where the best infrastructure for F1 exists,” he told F1’s official website.