IndyCar officials have confirmed that the Lotus-powered HVM car of Simona de Silvestro is likely to be black-flagged again early in this weekend's race at Texas.
De Silvestro and Fan Force United's Indianapolis-only entry for Jean Alesi were both pulled from the track just a few laps into last month's Indy 500 due to concerns that the power deficit between the Lotus engines and their Chevrolet and Honda counterparts was excessive and could pose a safety risk. The Lotus entries were as much as 17mph off the pace at Indy, which put them outside the 105 per cent cut-off.
Lotus's lack of horsepower has less of an impact on road and street courses where outright speed is at less of a premium, meaning that it was not an issue at Detroit last weekend. However the gap is expected to be amplified again when the series moves onto the 1.5 mile superspeedway at Texas on Saturday night, and IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield told AUTOSPORT that the HVM entry will not remain on the track if it is too slow.
"Yes, it will [be black-flagged]," Barfield said. "We're working with Lotus to try to find some solutions to keep them on track. We're trying to be patient about it, but the reality is that Texas is a difficult place, with the way they race there, to leave somebody out on the track who is off the pace. I'd like to be sympathetic and work with them, but safety is paramount."
Lotus IndyCar project manager Olivier Picquenot said developments are in the pipeline, but pointed out that having Texas just two weeks after Indy had not allowed enough time for them to be introduced.
"We will have an improvement in Texas, but we will still be far from the leaders," he told AUTOSPORT. "We can't find the horsepower we are missing in one week. It's too much for that. We have parts to make, and things to change inside the engine."
Picquenot also admitted that he thought IndyCar had been slightly heavy-handed in not permitting the Lotus-powered cars to remain on the track at Indy, although he says that he respects the series' decision.
"Personally, I think it was not really fair, because with the yellow flags and everything ... we never had the chance to try to run with the pack," he said.
"Under the circumstances, and with the yellow flags and tyre changes and everything, we could always have managed to be on the track and not be in the way of the leaders.
We respect IndyCar and they made the decision and it was their call, and we are not mad at IndyCar - that is definitely not the case. We still want to work with them, and try to grow in IndyCar. We do not want to quit."