Lotus fed by Bernie Ecclestone after being locked out of hospitality unit
Enstone team still without a hospitality unit at Suzuka; F1 supremo ensures mechanics and team members are fed on site
By James Galloway at Suzuka
Last Updated: 29/09/15 10:49am
Cash-strapped Lotus’ financial problems remain in full evidence at the Japanese GP with the team continuing to be locked out of their hospitality unit.
Team members were fed after being granted access by Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's ringmaster, to F1's Paddock Club hospitality unit.
'If you've been wondering where we've been eating today... Mr E had us covered,' the team Tweeted.
A protracted takeover from Renault is yet to be confirmed and the team are due in the High Court in London on Monday over an unpaid tax bill from HMRC.
Cash flow issues have hampered the team's preparations at Suzuka with crucial freight - including the team's Mercedes engines - not arriving at the circuit until Thursday.
Furthermore, Lotus staff have been unable to access what should be their hospitality unit in the paddock. It is thought that the existence of an unpaid bill for the suite from last year as being at the heart of the problem.
On Thursday the team had blamed time differences for the delay in race organisers receiving payment for the unit, but they remained locked out into the weekend.
Drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado had to shelter from the rain during their media engagements on Thursday, with the team's management having also been forced to conduct conversations outside. Rival teams have also opened their doors to provide Lotus's mechanics with food and drink.
On the track, Lotus completed just two laps in the rain-hit Practice One session in an apparent attempt to guard against car damage. Although all teams limited their usual mileage in the wet conditions, Sky Sports F1 commentator David Croft suggested: "That is not just about engine mileage, that is about a team that do not want to risk any sort of crash or mishap as they are struggling for parts as it is."
There weren't many laps in Practice Two for Lotus either. Grosjean was back in the car after Jolyon Palmer was at the wheel in P1, but completed just six laps, while Maldonado racked up seven laps.
At the Belgian GP, Lotus' trackside operations director Alan Permane told Sky Sports F1 that 2015 is "the worst season we have had financially".
This is not the first time the team's build-up to a race has been affected by cash-flow, with Pirelli withholding tyres from Lotus until a matter of minutes before Practice One in Hungary due to unpaid bills.
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