I have a source in the media who has been in touch with BHA and Lotus.
And this whole situation reeks to high heaven.
Let's start with the Lotus press release, which I've shared in my Google Docs:
The first thing is the spin that Lotus is putting on this, namely that they dropped BHA & DRR, not the other way around. It is widely speculated that there were at least threats of legal action against Lotus from those two teams citing "breach of contract". Unfortunately, the deal is done and it's unlikely that we'll ever know how BHA and/or DRR feel the contract was breached by Lotus.
My source has been in contact with Olivier Picquenot, Manager of IndyCar racing at Lotus. He states, "The tests organise by Indycar or private test are not mandatory and we want to do it, the addition of two cars end of February change completely our plan of engines pool and make difficult the start of the season for us, our technical partner EDL and the teams."
This also sounds like "spin", although I think it smells more like a cow patty.
The teams were all originally have their engine contracts done late last year, as I recall, yet there were still teams without engine deals going into testing.
The teams that were confirmed with Lotus engines in mid-Feb were:
- HVM (1 car)
- BHA (1 car)
- DRR (1 car)
Shank wasn't confirmed, as they were still trying to put funding together.
So the cars putting the strain on Lotus could only be Dragon. We all know how late Bourdais got his motor. That may be partly due to finding funding for Bourdais' ride, but may also be related to Lotus' financial issues.
So why is it that two more engines for Lotus is a strain while two more at Honda or Chevy is business as usual? The short answer is money.
There is reason to believe that the legal issues that Lotus has been dealing with have resulted in their inability to pay Judd during development of the motor. Judd needed to make a business decision, and they stopped development until they got paid. It doesn't make good business sense to have lots of manpower spending lots of time developing a motor that may or may not wind up in a car on a race track, so Judd stopped working on it. When Lotus paid Judd, development resumed, but they were behind the curve, and that shows in the on-track performance of the Lotus cars.
This has more twists and turns than the first season of 24, I tell ya!
Now, I have also heard that the lack of power for the Lotus motors can be attributed (at least in part) to a temperature safety system that not only limits the power, but will also kill the motor if it reaches a certain temperature. The idea of saving the motors so they will run the distance required by IndyCar's rulebook makes sense, but it cost too much in the way of horsepower. Although I think this was more a matter of making sure the Lotus teams had working motors, as they were (and apparently still are!) in short supply.
Going into SaoPaulo and then Indianapolis, Lotus suddenly has more engines to work with, so they may be able to remove the temp safety system. In theory, this should improve the power of the Lotus cars, but nobody knows by how much.
The other thing is the availability of Lotus motors...
Will there be teams that take a stab at running Indy with a Lotus lump? It would lead to a larger car count, sure. But it also adds the potential for a full-season driver getting bumped from the 500.
I'm sure Lotus would hate for Simona to sit out on Memorial Day, since she is Lotus' flagship driver. Add in the drama of her accident at Indy last year and making the show in PorkChop with burns on her hands, and you've got a hell of a story!
And what of the teams that are sticking with Lotus instead of jumping ship, specifically Dragon? Bourdais has wrung the most out of that motor and had a couple of brilliant drives. I'm sure Lotus wants to see their black/gold livery running 'round The Brickyard. Don't know about Legge, though.
We know Shank wants to field a driver. So does Newman-Haas.