Lotus F1 team 'in limbo' waiting for final HMRC High Court hearing

The Lotus Formula 1 team is confident of staving off administration, with a final deadline over unpaid debts to HMRC looming on Monday

Lotus F1 team 'in limbo' waiting for final HMRC High Court hearing

The team's financial state has been highlighted this week in Japan as freight was late arriving to the Suzuka paddock, while all staff at the circuit have been locked out of the team hospitality unit.

While Lotus will compete this weekend, its future is on the line as it returns to the High Court on Monday as it owes HMRC £2.7million in PAYE (income tax and national insurance) - £900,000 each for June, July and August.

Justice Birrs, however, made clear at the last hearing on September 18 he would not grant a further adjournment beyond Monday.

In agreeing to the second adjournment last Friday Justice Birrs was satisfied there was "a genuinely real prospect" of Renault completing the first stage of a deal to acquire Lotus that would "allow significant funding to go into the company".

At present, that deal remains in limbo, with work continuing to go on behind the scenes to try to get it over the line and to avert administration that would end the takeover, result in the loss of over 400 jobs and mean Lotus would not see out the season.

Lotus CEO Matthew Carter told AUTOSPORT: "As far as I'm aware the potential new shareholders [Renault] are aware of the deadline, and as far as I'm aware the deadline will be met."

Despite Justice Birrs' remarks, there is a possibility Lotus's confirmation of Pastor Maldonado last Sunday as one of its drivers for 2016 - triggering forthcoming payments from backer PDVSA - may satisfy HMRC and prove enough for the judge dismiss the case.

But the clock is ticking on the Renault deal, with Carter adding: "We are in limbo until we know the overall deal is concluded.

"As soon as we know then things will start falling into place."

Carter recognises the fact Lotus cannot pay the £27,000 required to unlock its hospitality unit is a sad reflection on the position the team finds itself in.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone came to the rescue of the mechanics by providing them with Paddock Club catering for the day.

Explaining the situation, Carter said: "We have to make certain decisions as to what we pay and what priorities we make payments in.

"The hospitality at the circuit wasn't one of the priorities at the moment.

"We are still hoping we get the keys for tomorrow, and we'll see where we go.

"I appreciate it doesn't look good for the team at all, nor the sport, but I guess its indicative of where we are at the moment."

Asked whether a payment would be forthcoming for the hospitality, he replied: "No, but I'm hoping that we'll come to some sort of agreement with the circuit."

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