The fortunes of the ill-prepared Lotus engine operation continue to go from bad to worse, with news overnight team owner Jay Penske and his Dragon Racing outfit have filed a lawsuit against the engine-maker for “contractual fraud”.
The team has launch a lawsuit for $4.6 million in damages, accusing Lotus of spreading “outrageous” falsehoods about the team, while also failing to deliver on its promise to supply the two Dallara DW12 chassis’ it had pledged to the team.
This now explains why the team – which runs Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge – failed to appear at any of the pre-season testing, and why the engine for Bourdais’ car was only delivered on the eve of the first practice session at the season-opening St Petersburg Grand Prix.
The team had to purchase its own Dallara chassis as a result of Lotus’ supply failure, and it wasn’t able to receive any engines from Lotus until they paid Lotus for the engines, one of many “outrageous and improper demands” made by Lotus, the lawsuit claims.
Dragon Racing has also accused Lotus of defamation, claiming that Lotus “knowingly [made] false statements to the effect that Dragon was not honouring financial and contractual commitments to [them]”.
Dragon Racing also claims that Lotus is in breach of its contract for failing to disclose that it is in the middle of a major corporate restructure.
It has been no secret that Lotus’ engine is not at the performance level of its rivals Honda and Chevrolet. Speed.com are reporting Dragon have returned their Lotus engines and associated equipment and are in now advanced talks with Chevrolet. It is understood they are close to signing to signing a deal.
This leaves Keith Wiggins, the HVM team and friend to RichardsF1.com Simona De Silvestro as the only full-time Lotus-powered entry for now.
It must be said that with Lotus’ shortfall, both Honda and Chevrolet are to be thoroughly commended for stepping up to the challenge of supplying far more of the field than for whom they contractually agreed to provide powerplants.
Lotus’ decision to manufacture engines for the 2012 Indycar Series was made late, and production, testing, development and overall performance of cars under Lotus power has been well off the pace of rivals.
Dreyer & Reinbold and Bryan Herta Autosport have both ditched the Lotus engine, with the former today announcing it has taken over the second Chevrolet engine lease of Panther Racing, which is will run in Oriol Servia’s car.