Dr. Colin Kolles has rubbished speculation that F1 2010 newcomer Hispania Racing is in such dire financial straits that it will not even be able to see out its maiden campaign of top flight competition, let alone embark upon another one in 2011 - as rumours linking Toyota to either HRT or Lotus continue to gather pace.

HRT's struggles this season have been well-documented, with its Dallara-designed chassis proving to be invariably the slowest car in the field, financial difficulties having forced the team to drop the promising Karun Chandhok for habitual tail-ender Sakon Yamamoto and even whispers of unpaid bills to Cosworth, endangering its engine supply.

All-in-all, the naysayers claim, the Jos? Ram?n Carabante-owned outfit is in a sorry state and on the brink of collapse - but team principal Kolles is adamant that nothing could be further from the truth, contending that the Murcia-based squad's budget was recently discussed and approved over the weekend of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

"We still need to complete certain objectives, but there is no cause for concern," the German told Motorsport-Total.com. "The bill for the engines has been paid up to the end of the season. I think we are in better shape than some others.

"We will see who finishes the season and who does not, and we'll see who is on the grid next season. I am used to these rumours. When I arrived at Midland, everyone thought we would not survive, and it was the same with Spyker and Force India - but the team is still there."

Meanwhile, Italian website 422race.com claims Chandhok's sponsorship was in fact coming out of the personal purse of none other than hugely influential F1 commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone, and when the Indian was dropped from the race line-up prior to the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in July, it was an indication that the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive's frustration with HRT was growing and his patience running out.

A mooted merger between Hispania and rejected F1 2011 hopeful Epsilon Euskadi has since been exposed as little more than wild, unfounded speculation, with 422race.com describing the Basque project as 'never more than smoke in the eyes' with no 'decent budget', accusing Joan Villadelprat of launching the entry bid merely to gain some publicity for his organisation and asserting that the design 'was made by a contest amongst Spanish engineering students and the wind tunnel model was a slight modification of an old World Series by Renault car'.

It seems there is more substance, however, behind the talk of a technical collaboration with Toyota, who withdrew from the top flight in an official capacity at the close of 2009 but have recently made a return of sorts by providing Pirelli with a TF109 model for tyre-testing. There are further suggestions that Kolles has agreed to sell HRT to a consortium of Czech and Serbian entrepreneurs come season's end - amongst them indefatigable Stefan GP figurehead Zoran Stefanovic, who has refused to either corroborate or deny the stories.

"It's a delicate question to answer," Hispania technical co-ordinator Jacky Eeckelaert told toilef1.com. "It is true there were contacts with Toyota, but I don't think it's going to happen for 2011. As for a merger with Epsilon Euskadi, I'm not aware of that."

In another intriguing twist, it is also being speculated that rather than tying up an engine-supply and technical support agreement with Renault as is widely anticipated, Lotus Racing could in fact be set to benefit from Toyota's decade of F1 expertise with a surprise engine and chassis deal, according to Autosprint - with chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne the key link between the two parties, and sporting director Dieter Gass having similarly previously worked in Cologne.

Lotus team principal Tony Fernandes has promised 'something different' and 'a number of very exciting announcements' regarding 2011 in Singapore this coming weekend, alluding to 'lots of negotiations' over the last few weeks and professing to be 'very happy with the outcome'.

However, given Fernandes' palpable desire to respect Lotus' formidable heritage in the sport and Colin Chapman's innovative brilliance, it is deemed unlikely in the extreme that the latest incarnation of such a classic name would be willing to despoil its ancestor's achievements by outsourcing its chassis design, and a Toyota spokesperson has conceded: "Toyota and Lotus? Not in a million years. We are still talking to HRT."

The plot, as they say, thickens...


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