Yesterday, the Lotus team personnel were prevented by local security officers from entering their garage and beginning the ‘unpack’ and setup procedure usual for a Wednesday. Whilst the team refused to reveal the nature of the commercial dispute behind the legal petition being enforced, this is not the first time this year Lotus have found their equipment impounded, presumably due to unpaid bills.
At the 2015 Belgium GP, the Enstone team trucks, cars and equipment were impounded due to a contractual dispute with Charles Pic. Earlier in Hungary, stories circulated that Pirelli had refused to distribute tyres to Lotus until outstanding debts were settled. Pictures of the team personnel resuming work were tweeted later in the day.
Earlier this week, Renault leaked through an Ian Parkes Autosport article, that they intended to take a majority stake in the Enstone team. The suggested timing of the takeover – around or after the season finale – could suggest that Renault are looking for the Lotus creditors to voluntarily write down some of the debt. With the season finished and the deadline for the HMRC winding up petition drawing ever closer, Lotus creditors may be more inclined to agree settlement of accounts at a reduced amount – rather than risk receiving little or nothing at all.
In a ‘business as normal’ move, Lotus have signed up Joylon Palmer for 2016, to replace the outgoing Romain Grosjean. However, Renault may not be obliged to honour this arrangement despite the fact that Palmer brings cash with him.
Also confirmed by the team’s CEO Matthew Carter is that if Renault acquire the Enstone team, the name Lotus will disappear from Formula One.