Lotus refuses to comment as rumors of switch to Mercedes power swirl

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So far, Mercedes has three teams slated to use their V-6 engines in 2015. If you believe the current rumors, there will soon be a fourth team in their stable.

Over the last couple of weeks, multiple reports from entities such as noted F1 scribes Adam Cooper and Joe Saward, as well as Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, have touched on rumblings that Lotus will replace McLaren as that fourth Mercedes-powered team next year.

This morning, a spokesman for Lotus – which is currently powered by Renault – refused to comment on the rumors according to Britain’s Sky Sports.

The team has regressed badly this year after finishing fourth in the Constructors’ in 2013 despite well-documented financial issues. A lot of the blame for their current decline can go to its Renault power unit, which has failed to keep up with the Mercedes-powered entries.

Regardless of whether these Lotus-Mercedes rumors are true or not, they can’t make Renault’s job any easier at the moment as they continue to sustain criticism for their efforts – particularly from their top client, four-time defending World Champions Red Bull.

Team principal Christian Horner has declared Renault’s contribution “unacceptable” and more recently, driver Daniel Ricciardo admitted that their engine situation has been a source of frustration.

“Don’t get me wrong, it is frustrating because it is hard because a lot of it happens on the straight and there is no skill required on the straight,” Ricciardo said to reporters. “So it is throwing talent away for nothing.

“Don’t get me wrong, anyone can hop in the car and if you are not scared to go 300 kilometers an hour, you can easily go flat out on the straight – so it is giving away time for nothing, which is the frustrating part.

“I guess from [Red Bull’s] side, they spent time, hours, money, on designing a fast car through the corners yet it just gets washed away on the straights so that is the frustrating part, but it is what it is.”

Tequila Patron to end ESM and IMSA partnerships after 2018 season

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Earlier on Monday, Tequila Patron, a long-time sponsor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, both at the team level – they have a long standing partnership with Tequila Patron ESM – and the series level, announced that they will be ending their sponsorships at the end of the 2018 season.

After sponsoring Highcroft Racing in 2008 and 2009 in the American Le Mans Series, Tequila Patron and ESM formed a partnership in 2010 to launch their own team. Since then, they have scored overall wins in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Petit Le Mans. They have also competed internationally, in both Prototype and GT categories.

“On behalf of the entire Extreme Speed Motorsports organization, it has been an honor to represent such an amazing brand for the past 13 years,” said team co-owner Scott Sharp via a team release.

“I have the deepest gratitude for all of (Patron CEO and ESM co-founder) Ed Brown’s support. Together we have tackled various challenges, won races at each step, and built ESM into such an incredible team. Simultaneously, it has been thrilling to watch Ed and his team build the Patrón brand in a meteoric fashion and along the way become an icon in the motorsports world! We will miss not carrying the now infamous green and black livery, but the same passion for excellence will remain!”

IMSA President Scott Atherton also expressed gratitude toward Patron for their long-time involvement.

“IMSA and Patron Spirits have enjoyed a fantastic partnership for more than a decade. Tequila Patron rose through the IMSA ranks, from a high-profile team sponsor with Patron Highcroft Racing beginning in 2008, through its entitlement sponsorship of the Patron GT3 Challenge starting in 2009, and its presenting sponsorship of the American Le Mans Series beginning in 2010,” Atherton detailed.

He continued, “Tequila Patron continued in a prominent position as the American Le Mans Series merged with GRAND-AM to create the new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and has been our entitlement partner for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup since 2014 in addition to its longstanding support of the Tequila Patron ESM race team and its pair of Nissan DPi race cars.

“All associated with IMSA – competitors, promoter partners, series officials and fans – will miss the iconic Tequila Patrón brand next year. On behalf of IMSA, we thank CEO Ed Brown and Tequila Patron for all they have done over the many years to help us grow IMSA and the sport as a whole. We’re more proud than words can express to have counted Tequila Patron among our family of premium brand partners.”

Team co-owner Scott Sharp, in a story posted on SportsCar365, asserted that the ESM team has every intention of continuing in 2019.

“We’re working on a number of options,” Sharp said. “Obviously I think we’ve singly got the best team we’ve ever had, personnel-wise. Having been refining over the years and making selected additions, we’ve gotten ourselves to be super strong. The goal is keeping everyone together. We’re working through a few different options that will hopefully allow us to do that.”

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