The Lotus F1 Team looks set for more legal battles after last-minute attempts to stop bailiffs impounding its equipment on Thursday evening at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Having only recently resolved a court battle over outstanding bills to gearbox supplier Xtrac, the team could be headed to the courts again after former test driver Charles Pic launched legal proceedings against the Enstone outfit.
Pic, who served as the team’s test and reserve driver in 2014, has claimed the team was in violation of its contract with him by not giving him his full allocation of testing days that had been agreed to at the time of signing his contract.
It is understood that the legal claim led to bailiffs appearing at the Lotus team’s garages on the eve of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend. Frantic last-minute negotiations prevented them from impounding any of the team’s equipment.
Deputy Team Principal Federic Gastaldi confirmed that discussions between both parties were ongoing and that it was hoped a settlement could be achieved quickly.
“An unexpected measure was taken late yesterday evening which caught us somewhat unawares; we don’t travel with our team lawyer to every Grand Prix so there were quite a few telephone calls to try to understand what the other party was trying to achieve,” he told the Motorsport.com website.
“We have the situation under control and there’s no question of anything impacting on our race weekend. I’m sure we will find an amicable resolution to the situation for the future.”
The late evening presence of the bailiffs created another drama for the team, as it forced members of the team’s personnel to remain on-site at the circuit outside of the designated curfew regulations.
The team was successfully able to argue to the FIA Stewards that it had not violated one of the two exemptions that each team is afforded under the rules. The curfew breaches are typically undertaken if the team’s mechanics have to perform major works (such as major repairs or a complete chassis build in the event of an accident).
Image via XPB Images