Lotus boss angry with Renault comments over engine payment

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Lotus owner and team principal Gerard Lopez has hit back at Renault’s Jean-Michel Jalinier after he reported in Spain that late payments from some of the teams being supplied had caused the French marque to fall behind schedule.

“On this part I must say we are not at an acceptable situation, because some of the teams are just late in payment, and at the time that you spend resources in order to catch up you cannot afford to have those non-payments,” Jalinier explained to journalists in Spain. However, he refused to name the culprits.

This caused a game of “Guess Who?” in the F1 media as to which teams had not paid on time. Renault currently supplies both Red Bull owned teams (Red Bull and Toro Rosso), who financially fall back on the sales of the energy drink, leading many to assume that they could not be at fault.

Instead, attention turned to Lotus and Caterham, who have both been struggling in recent years. Caterham CEO Cyril Abiteboul denied that his team was at fault, saying: “It’s a confidential issue but I’m happy, since I’m on time, to say that we are settled with invoices with Renault Sport F1.”

Lotus also denied the claims, and Lopez has now called on Jalinier to name the late payers instead of making ambiguous claims.

“This is why we had a meeting, because I wanted them to clarify their price,” he told Press Association.

“I said to them if they are going to say things, then name the team that is an issue. Don’t just say “teams” and then expect people to make their own judgements. We respect the arrangements we have with them.”

Lopez again denied that Lotus – who has failed to pay drivers and suppliers on time in the past – was at fault.

“If there is, it must be somebody else, but I’m not even sure there is, to be honest with you, so we’ll see,” he said. “We’ve paid up. We’re absolutely in line with them.”

Although it is unlikely Renault will come out and name the late payers, the teams do have every right to be frustrated with the comments. The automatic assumption that Lotus and Caterham were at fault is unfair on both teams, regardless of their history.

In other Lotus news, reports that Gene Haas was due to visit the team this week appeared to have been untrue. The team – in its unique style – even ran a tongue-in-cheek “Haas Watch” on Twitter.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.