Lotus say 2015 is 'the worst season we have had financially'
Team faces having cars impounded in Belgium; Alan Permane says they would welcome Renault "back with open arms"
By William Esler
Last Updated: 27/08/15 9:29am
Lotus' Alan Permane says 2015 is "the worst season we have had financially" and that the team would love to become a Renault works squad again.
The Enstone team's budgetary problems have been well documented recently and in Hungary they had no tyres until minutes before Practice One due to unpaid Pirelli bills.
Indeed, the trackside operations director admits it has been a struggle just to get to each race, let alone finish on the podium as Romain Grosjean did at Spa.
"We have had a very, very difficult season," Permane told Sky Sports F1.
"This is the worst season we have had financially and we have scrimped and scraped for parts and to get the cars on the track is a massive effort each week. So to be able to stick it on the podium is just unbelievable."
Lotus' problems followed them to Belgium with news emerging on Friday that their cars could be impounded due to a dispute with former test driver Charles Pic.
"It has been a very, very hard weekend for us, especially Friday – we've had all kinds of money problems as people know – and to be able to put that behind us and do the business on the track has been great," he added.
"I have heard they [the cars] will be impounded, but I'm sure it will be sorted out early next week and we can go onto Monza and get on with things."
The Enstone squad were the Renault works team for most of the previous decade and the French firm have been heavily linked with repurchasing the team as they assess their future F1 strategy.
"The team are incredibly excited about it. "We would welcome them back with open arms obviously," Permane said
"We've got a great relationship and a great partnership with Mercedes, but to be a works team again would be fantastic. Then we can build on what we have now, build on the chassis we have this year and then try to emulate what we did with Renault in 2005 and 2006 [when they won the world title] – that is what we want to do."
Certainly becoming a manufacturer backed squad would help the team's financial situation, with their budgetary problems highlighted by a lack of gearboxes which forced Grosjean to use a race one in practice. It subsequently failed, leading to a grid penalty.
"We've only got three. Most teams, and we certainly in the past, have brought five or six gearboxes, but we have three this year and that is where we are," Permane admitted.
"So someone has to use their race gearbox on a Friday and unfortunately it was Romain this week and he had a problem and he had a five-place penalty. Under normal circumstances that would just have been a gearbox change and no penalty."
With no money for extra gearboxes, it is perhaps unsurprising then that Permane says the E23 is virtually the same car that started the season.
"We haven't really been developing. We brought a new front wing here, but that is about the only thing we have done," he said.
"With a bit of input this third place would have been an easy third place. We could have done an awful lot better this season with a little more investment.
"Having said that our owners have kept us going through the hard times and they have put money in and kept the team running and coming to races. And that is the important thing, being able to be here and score podiums like this."