The IZOD IndyCar Series has announced that it has released Lotus from its contract as an engine supplier to the US open wheel championship, after just a single year together.
"Lotus has made a business decision not to return in 2013 and asked for its release," Brian Barnhart, IndyCar's president of operations and strategy. "We wish them well and would welcome their participation again in the future."
Lotus started 2012 supplying several teams with engines after IndyCar introduced new technical specifications for a 2.2-litre, twin turbocharged V6 engine and opened up the supply chain to multiple companies, with Honda and Chevrolet taking up the lions share of contracts with teams.
Although Lotus surprised many by débuting a viable engine at Sebring in January, it seem became clear that the company was struggling to meet the series requirements on the minimum number of units it was able to supply. Moreover, the Lotus engine was significantly underperforming on the track compared with its rivals, and two of its partner teams - Bryan Herta Autoport and Dreyer & Reinbold - soon sought and were granted early releases from their commercial contacts after just three races.
A fourth team - Jay Penske's Dragon Racing - had a more acrimonious split with Lotus just before the 2012 Indianapolis 500 in May. That left Lotus supplying the engine for just one car on the grid, that of HVM Racing's Simona de Silvestro, but the lack of power meant that the Swiss driver was consistently starting from the back of the grid for the remainder of the season and unable to work her way back up through the field in the race itself.
At the end of the season, de Silvestro split from HVM to move to KV Racing Technology alongside Tony Kanaan (see story
) while HVM itself looks set to be exiting the IndyCar series altogether in favour of teaming up with Status GP in world endurance racing (see story
That would have left Lotus with no takers for its engines in 2013, even if it had been minded to try and continue working in IndyCar. But Friday's announcement confirmed that neither the series nor the manufacturer saw any point in pursuing that strategy further.
"The decision not to continue was not an easy one and Lotus does not discount the possibility to re-enter the series at some time in the future," said Lotus' Chief Operating Officer Aslam Farikullah. "For the time being, Lotus will focus on core business activities as a leading sports car manufacturer and world class engineering consultancy.
"Lotus is grateful to IndyCar for the opportunity to compete during the 2012 season and for the support provided throughout," Farikullah added.
Barnhart responded, "We appreciate the effort that Lotus made in helping return manufacturer competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series."