ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Lotus mechanics were hurriedly unpacking the Formula One team’s cars from crates on Thursday after ongoing financial problems delayed their preparations for the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The team, who are hoping to be taken over by Renault imminently, said unspecified issues with the circuit organizers had been resolved and the cars would be ready for Friday practice.
Race stewards said in a statement that the team had sought and been granted a waiver from Thursday’s mandatory scrutineering, the official inspection that would normally see cars excluded from the race weekend if not presented on time.
The stewards agreed instead that the Lotus cars would undergo scrutineering on Friday morning.
A paddock source told Reuters that, while other teams were working on their cars, the Lotus freight was held at the nearby airport until Thursday before being allowed into the Yas Marina circuit.
Lotus were locked out of their paddock hospitality in Japan in October due to unpaid bills and had issues with access to their garages in the run-up to the Brazilian Grand Prix two weeks ago.
In Belgium, in August, their cars were impounded by bailiffs after the race at Spa.
“It is something we have experienced in the past,” said French driver Romain Grosjean. “We have always managed to put it on track on time.
“As long as it’s ready for FP2 (Friday’s second practice) then I’m happy,” added Grosjean, who leaves the team after Sunday’s race and is due to sit out first practice to make way for British successor Jolyon Palmer.
“As we’ve shown in...Suzuka and Brazil when we were a little bit late, we did manage to put the car on the track and go for it. It’s just harder work for the guys who don’t deserve this.”
Venezuelan team mate Pastor Maldonado, talking to reporters as a forklift truck brought another container into the harbourside paddock, said the situation was difficult.
“I hope next season we will sort out these kind of problems which is making more tension and pressure for everyone,” he said.
Lotus have fended off legal action already this year and still face the threat of another High Court appearance next month if the Renault takeover does not go through.
Maldonado, who brings significant funding to the team through Venezuelan oil company PDVSA, said a deal was close.
“But of course until we have the final news and confirmation, it’s always difficult.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ian Chadband