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.
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) May 12, 2014