Formula One facing crisis as futures of THREE teams are thrown into greater doubt

Lotus have been locked out of their pit at the Japanese Grand Prix amid money troubles while Red Bull may quit — taking sister outfit Toro Rosso with them,Power struggle: Red Bull say they’re off if they don’t get the engine they want for next seasonFormula 1 is teetering on the brink of disaster as the future of three teams plunged deeper into doubt, writes Byron Young in Suzuka.


Four-time F1 champions Red Bull have warned they will walk out at the end of the year unless they can find a competitive engine.

nd staff of the legendary Lotus team were locked out of their own paddock hospitality here in Japan because of unpaid bills.

Lotus’ drivers, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean, were forced to spend the day sheltering from the rain behind the motorhome with catering staff and ate at neighbouring teams’ facilities.

The mechanics’ lunch came from a local pizza take-away.riving farce: Lotus driver Pastor Maldonado had to turn to rival teams to get some food

It comes in the middle of a London High court battle with HMRC, who claim Lotus owe around £3million in unpaid taxes

And just days after the Enstone-based operation re-signed Maldonado — who is the sport’s best paid driver, thanks to £35m in backing from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

More concerning for F1 ringmaster Bernie Ecclestone as he battles to keep the beleaguered sport together is the future of Red Bull.

If they go, they would also fold their Italy-based junior team Toro Rosso and, perhaps, even the Austrian Grand Prix, which they underwrite.

The Milton Keynes-base team was rumoured to be on the brink of a new Audi engine deal. But that was wrecked two days ago by the shocking emissions debacle gripping parent company VW, which has left the world’s second biggest car company reeling with reparations estimated at £28 billion.After being rebuffed by Mercedes, Red Bull’s only engine option for 2016 is Ferrari. But they insist they will leave F1 if they do not get parity power with the Maranello marque, who won the season’s most recent Grand Prix in Singapore last weekend.

“If we don’t have a competitive engine, there is no future in F1 for Red Bull Racing,” said Helmut Marko — a key advisor to billionaire team owner Dietrisch Mateschitz.

“The curtain may go down after [the final race of the year on November 29 in] Abu Dhabi. That is Mr Mateschitz’s opinion.

“It costs the same amount to race at the front or, like we are doing now, in the ‘premium midfield’, and he is not willing to do that for another season.”

Source story and pic: The Mirror