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Lotus 'confident' ahead of court hearing

2015-09-27 10:34

IS THERE HOPE? Lotus faces a court hearing in London on Monday (Sept 28). Is there light at the end of the tunnel for the struggling team? Image: AFP / Mohd Rasfan

Suzuka, Japan - The Lotus F1 team is confident they can escape going into administration even if money owed to Britain's tax authorities remains outstanding before a London High Court hearing on Monday (Sept 28).

Lotus chief executive Matthew Carter told Reuters at the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday when asked about the technicalities: "Physically, cash doesn't have to be in a bank account. There needs to be intention, a show that things are heading in the right direction. That's what everyone wants.

"There's clearly movement. I know from our level that things have moved in the last seven days. We're confident."

Keeping the faith

Lotus, one of the sport's iconic names and the team that won world championships with Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso in previous guises of Benetton and Renault, is hoping to be rescued by Renault.

However takeover talks have dragged on, with Renault still to rule out leaving the sport entirely after years as engine suppliers, and a series of creditors have begun to lose patience.

At the last High Court hearing on Sept. 18, the court heard that Lotus owed the tax authorities three missed payments of $1.37million each plus interest.

The judge, Justice Birss, agreed to a final adjournment on the basis there was "genuinely a real prospect" of the first stage of a deal being signed which would allow significant funding into the company..

Carter said: "We are very confident that it will get resolved tomorrow, as we have been through the whole situation as it's gone on.

"It's clearly not in any one's best interests for the company to be put into administration - creditors, HMRC, anyone at all. I think it's just a case of making sure that we keep everyone happy and give everyone exactly what they need tomorrow."

"Very public"

Lotus have faced a series of legal actions against them this season, with bailiffs impounding their cars after the Belgian Grand Prix in a dispute with former reserve Charles Pic.

In Japan, they have been locked out of a hospitality unit intended for their use after they failed to pay circuit organisers.

F1's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who is not in Japan, arranged for the team's hungry mechanics to be fed with staff of the VIP paddock club.

Carter said the failures of the Caterham and Marussia teams last year, with both placed into administration and only the latter finding a new owner and emerging to fight another day, had made creditors nervous.

"We as a team have obviously lost sponsors since last year, we finished lower down in the order which has given us less of a budget," he said.

"And it's very public that we are trying to negotiate a sale of the team. And while that sale process has been ongoing, money has been held back and it's just made things very tight."

Lotus, whose major sponsor is the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA that backs race driver Pastor Maldonado, finished fourth overall in 2013 but slumped to eighth in 2014 with just 10 points.

Previously owned by Renault, they were sold to Gerard Lopez's Genii Capital after it emerged in 2009 that Brazilian Nelson Piquet junior had been ordered to crash deliberately at the 2008 Singapore GP won by team mate Alonso.

That scandal also led to the departure of flamboyant Italian principal Flavio Briatore.

Luxembourg-based Lopez, an early investor in Skype, is the current principal although he has attended few races this season.

The team employs around 400 staff at their factory at Enstone, in British Prime Minister David Cameron's Witney constituency in West Oxfordshire. 


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