French driver Romain Grosjean managed only 16th fastest during practise for the Singapore Grand Prix, while team mate Pastor Maldonado was 18th.
The duo were almost two and four seconds down respectively on Daniiel Kvyat, who went fastest in the second session in his Red Bull.
Earlier, Lotus were given a week to stave off administration after a judge agreed to one last adjournment of a case against them by Britain’s tax authorities.
Lawyers for Lotus had sought more time on the basis that a deal with Renault was imminent whereas administration would leave creditors worse off with the team likely to cease trading.
Maldonado just hoped the case could be resolved soon.
“The team have a lot of problems with the finances,” he told reporters, the topic of conversation drawing a sigh from the Venezuelan.
“You can see the problems with the tyres, problems with many things, breaks in the car, and this is because we are living a tough time economically.
“Its tough, we are not the only one to have this kind of business but in the race team we are working very hard to compensate on the track.”
Maldonado said he would welcome a buyout by Renault, who are expected to withdraw their deal to supply engines to Red Bull and Toro Rosso and complete a deal for Lotus, who are sixth in the constructors championship.
“Renault, I have been working with them in the past a lot of years together and we have a good relationship as well and are very strong,” he said.
“Maybe they are having problems with the engine but nothing they cannot solve. Whatever happens I hope and I wish the best for the team.”
Maldonado, who has 12 points compared to 38 by his team mate, joined Lotus last year bringing with him considerable financial backing from Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
He dismissed paddock rumours that PDVSA had delayed payments because of the financial woe at Lotus.
“The team confirmed that nothing happened. In the history of PDVSA in Formula One they have been very cooperative and very punctual,” he said.
(Editing by Alan Baldwin)