But the Enstone team announced on Friday that Argentinean Gastaldi has in fact secured the job, with his role officially 'deputy team principal'.
Team owner Genii's Gerard Lopez is still the chairman and, at least nominally, the team principal.
Gastaldi has been promoted from within, having served until now as director of business development, but his history dates all the way back to the Benetton days.
"Federico was instrumental in nurturing our relationship with PDVSA and he continues to be a vital link for us with Venezuela," said Lopez.
"As a figurehead, no one better embodies the Lotus team spirit."