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GP Week : Issue 234
The farce surrounding the Lotus F1 Team shows no sign of abating even as the championship entered its final round as the team struck even more problems in Abu Dhabi. Having battled constant financial issues throughout the season, the Lotus team was late in setting up at Yas Marina, prompting speculation it may miss the event entirely. Asked for the reasons behind the delay, a team spokesman would only state that the team had experienced "issues" getting to Abu Dhabi, which were widely thought to have related to the fact organisers in Yas Marina insisted on being paid up front. It's understood that, not for the first time, Bernie Ecclestone stepped in to ensure the Enstone team made the grid. That meant the team's equipment was only released on Thursday, leaving it a race against time to get itself setup before on track action began. Prior to opening practice the team posted on social media that it was business as usual, almost. The Tweet suggested it was 85% sorted for the coming session, which turned out to be more like 50% when Jolyon Palmer's car sprang a water leak moments before the start of the session which was definitely caught late and not at all a cover story. The latest saga follows on from problems in Belgium, where the team raced with its cars impounded following a dispute with former test driver Charles Pic. There were also problems with Pirelli in Hungary when the Italian tyre supplier refused to provide tyres until its outstanding bills were paid, which meant a delay in practice proceedings for the team on that occasion. In Japan the mechanics had to eat in the Paddock Club after circuit officials refused to unlock the team's hospitality unit after it had failed to pay its 2014 tab and last time out in Brazil security staff were placed in the garage, preventing the team from preparing their car as another dispute over money erupted. Team bosses have claimed the issues stem from the protracted negotiations with Renault over whether or not the French marque will buy the team. Having begun its due diligence in May and provided courts in London with a letter of intent to purchase following the Singapore Grand Prix, the public humiliation has nonetheless continued unabated. Indeed the longer it drags out the more pessimistic observers are becoming over the prospective Renault buy out, a point which the resigning of Pastor Maldonado has only fuelled. That move was understood to have been made before an option in his contract expired, ensuring his millions remained with the team next season, but is hardly the sort of confident signing a team with manufacturer backing would make. With Palmer confirmed alongside him for 2016 it makes for an uninspiring driver pairing, one that doesn't seem to match the needs of a Renault factory effort - should the purchase go ahead. The consequences should it not are dire; even Bernie Ecclestone fears for the team should Renault elect to keep its cash in its pocket. lotus still having "issues" A GOOD OPTION Mercedes has extended its deal with newly crowned GP3 champ Esteban Ocon. The German marque also has Pascal Wehrlein under its umbrella and is now looking at their options for the two drivers next season. MuCH ADO ABOuT NOTHING The Spanish media reported McLaren boss Ron Dennis was furious that Eric Boullier hadn't controlled Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button better over the Brazilian GP weekend. The team though has scoffed at the reports, telling Pitpass.com it was "total codswallop." FeeLING THe PRessuRe After Felipe Massa was excluded from his home grand prix when a tyre check on the grid saw his tyre temperatures too high, a point the team disputes, the FIA has confirmed it has changed the process to prevent the situation reoccurring. suMMeR HOLIDAY Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were spotted chatting in the Abu Dhabi paddock, Webber posting on Twitter he was helping his former Red Bull teammate buy a Porsche road car. DRIVeRLess RACING Organisers of the electric Formula E series have announced a supporting category for driverless cars for the 2016/17 season. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso are both rumoured to be interested. 10 GPWEEK.com // 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> news BrieFly