Lotus technical director Nick Chester says his squad's potential in 2015 has been continually hampered due to its financial troubles and feels he has been restricted in trying to increases the rate of development.
The Lotus F1 team has been threatened with administration by HMRC over large unpaid tax bills and at a number of F1 Grand Prix the team has been locked out of its garages and hospitality units due to financial issues.
Chester also feels the money troubles have badly hit any developments Lotus has been able to produce on its Mercedes-powered E23 Hybrid car and at times come up with 'creative' solutions which didn't impact its budgets.
“I was pleased with the car in a lot of ways but disappointed in the amount of development,” Chester said. “We made a good basic car that handled well and with which the drivers could extract the maximum from. Unfortunately we have not been able to put developments on it due to finances. We could have gone a lot further with it otherwise and that would have been very interesting to see.”
After switching from the underwhelming Renault power units to Mercedes engines for 2015, Chester had been full of confidence for a successful season, but apart from Romain Grosjean's third place at the Belgium Grand Prix the team has struggled to break through the midfield pack.
“We had learnt a lot of lessons in the first year of turbo engines, with the E22, and managed to implement lessons learnt to the E23,” he explained. “The 2015 car has always had a good baseline and we have learnt about the direction we want to go. We'll try and take that forward to next year's car.
“[This season] has felt a lot more restrictive. In a normal year we'd bring quite a few major upgrades whereas this year we brought fewer and more minor developments. This means that we had to be more selective in what we brought and we have been a bit more creative in the more minor upgrades.”
Heading into the final round of the F1 season at Abu Dhabi, Lotus sits sixth in the Constructors' championship with a nine-point lead over Toro Rosso.
Lotus is expected to wrap up a takeover deal with Renault in the coming weeks which is hoped to save the team from its current financial crisis.