Jul.25 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Many in the paddock are in a holding pattern as Renault’s future in formula one remains unclear.
After Lotus was almost left without tyres to use in Hungary practice, it became clear that the Enstone team is waiting to pay overdue bills while team buyout talks with Renault, the French carmaker, are taking place.
Insiders say the late Pirelli bill amounting to more than $500,000 is just one of many at Lotus, with the Times newspaper claiming even Friday pay-driver Jolyon Palmer wants his “money back”.
Heikki Kulta, the correspondent for Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper, said a meeting between Lotus team owner Genii Capital and Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is now set to take place at the end of next week in Paris.
That ties in with comments by Christian Horner, boss of the Red Bull team, who are currently Renault’s premium partner in F1.
“We want to know in the next two weeks what Renault’s plan for the future is,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
The urgency is because Ghosn has not even ruled out quitting F1 completely. “Then we would need to get an engine from Mercedes, Ferrari or Honda,” said Horner.
So while Red Bull waits for Renault’s call, so too does Lotus, because if the Enstone team is bought out, any outstanding bills would have to be paid by the new owner.
It also means key car developments are not being brought to the black and gold E23.
“We need to be understanding about the situation,” said Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado.
Teammate Romain Grosjean has been quoted as barracking for the Renault buyout, as the current situation is akin to stalemate and he stands to be a French driver for the French works team.
“When you are thinking about selling the team, you won’t put any more money in because it’s all loss. So it’s a bit of a waiting situation,” said the Frenchman.
Also holding up the process is negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone, amid the prospect of more official income for Renault if it returns to full works team status.
Red Bull’s Horner sounds impatient.
“It’s not the responsibility of the teams to sort out Renault’s re-involvement or re-engagement in formula one or what their commercial terms are,” he insisted.