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Lotus has not paid Renault

NEWS STORY
09/05/2014

Lotus is understood to have fallen behind in its payments to engine manufacturer Renault, as Jean-Michel Jalinier, head of Renault Sport F1, revealed in Spain that slow payments had a direct impact on engine development.

Speaking during today's FIA press conference Franz Tost and Cyril Abiteboul confirmed that Toro Rosso and Caterham respectively are up to date with their payments. It is understood Red Bull is also up to date with its account while a Lotus spokesman would not comment on commercial arrangements.

As the odd one out there is seemingly only one conclusion which can be drawn from Lotus' chosen position. Indeed it is understood that Lotus has not paid for its engines at all thus far in 2014.

The squad only signed a new contract with Renault in February in a deal that was for "2014 and beyond." But just four races in to the new deal, and using Sauber's £15m deal with Ferrari as a rough guide, it would suggest Lotus is some £3.15m in arrears.

Missing payments to Renault is just the latest in a string of financial problems faced by the team. Last year Kimi Raikkonen confirmed he had not been paid, the team claiming it had cash flow issues at the time, while a deal with investors Quantum fell through rather embarrassingly.

From 2013 to now the team has shed eighty staff, including a number of key personnel as rival capitalised on the team's uncertain future.

The team also elected not to attend the first pre-season test of 2014 claiming it wasn't ideal for its build programme, a move sceptics was more down to a lack of finances. In January team boss Gerard Lopez refuted suggestions the team was £114m in debt by claiming £80m of that money was shareholder investment, and therefore not ‘real' debt.

There have even been suggestions that the money owed to it courtesy of hiring Pastor Maldonado has also been slow in arriving, compounding Lotus' problems.

The problem for Renault is that without Lotus' contribution, it is operating on just 75 percent of its forecast budget. With ground to be made up on Mercedes it is not good news for the French company and could impact its other customers.

Though it is unlikely Renault would simply stop supplying engines it would appear to be one possibility, and Jalinier admitted as much earlier.

Whilst admitting that his company could live with late payments "up to a certain point", that certain point was now in sight.

"It's just weeks away," he admitted, "then we'll have to address the situation with the teams and take decisions, because that's something we cannot carry forward.

Asked whether this might withholding engines, he admitted: "That is an option. You first need to work with your team and get back to some kind of financial situation..

For the moment one suspects Renault will bear the cost of Lotus' tardiness, while perhaps passing any developments only to customers who are up to date with payments.

Ironically, Lotus forms part of the F1 Strategy Group which recently refused to accept cost capping.

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

Mat Coch

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