Lotus is clinging to survival ahead of the Italian grand prix. Bernie Ecclestone paid the latest $2.3 million wage bill for the embattled team's 400 staff, which has ensured the black trucks are en route to Monza. But beyond that, fingers and toes are being crossed that the Renault buyout deal will be completed imminently.
Citing a source, the Telegraph newspaper said the canteen at Enstone is already closed, and staff will have to make do this weekend at Monza without some "software licences and building materials". The financial squeeze is not just because owner Gerard Lopez has turned down the money tap while the prospect of being bought by Renault and Alain Prost is looming so large.
Amid the uncertainty, Pastor Maldonado's backer PDVSA - undoubtedly the largest team sponsor - is reportedly holding onto the due payment for August. "PDVSA wants to wait until the future of their protege is clarified," said Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt.
If the Renault deal goes through, the French carmaker might conclude that PDVSA, a Venezuelan oil company, clashes with Total, a partner of Renault Sport. Roger Benoit, the veteran correspondent for the Swiss newspaper Blick, thinks that if Renault does buy Lotus, Maldonado may go "with his millions to Force India". (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing