The financial uncertainty facing Lotus F1 Team grew in the lead up to this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as its freight only arrived at Suzuka halfway through Thursday.
Most of the teams had their freight delivered to the track well in advance of the weekend, allowing the crews to work on their cars and prepare accordingly for the race.
Lotus has faced a great amount of financial uncertainty in recent months, and although talks with Renault about a possibly buy-out for 2016 are ongoing, the future of the Enstone operation is becoming less and less clear.
The team’s freight only arrived at Suzuka on Thursday due to outstanding bills, leaving it with a race against time to get everything prepared for practice on Friday.
Remarkably, the crew was not forced to break its work curfew as it managed to get the cars set up and prepared, and even managed to make light of the situation with its choice of music.
Sadly though, it might well be a ‘road to nowhere’ for Lotus. Last week, the High Court in England agreed to adjourn a hearing relating to outstanding payments to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), saving the team from administration.
However, the judge did say that “it is to be regarded as a final adjournment”, with the next hearing scheduled for Monday following the Japanese Grand Prix.
“With the Renault deal still not done, they risk going back to court on Monday and then it is game over,” a source in Suzuka told MotorSportsTalk.
The team did not erect its hospitality unit on Thursday, leaving drivers Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado to complete their media commitments standing in the middle of a drizzly Suzuka paddock.
On Friday morning ahead of practice, it still remained empty.
Just like the old days… #JapaneseGP #r8main #f1 #lotus pic.twitter.com/lKVQlS1NDt
— Romain Grosjean (@RGrosjean) September 25, 2015
Only an install lap in the rain this morning. Now just kicking back and enjoying the @Lotus_F1Team VIP hospitality! pic.twitter.com/hAtV8ApKZ9
— Jolyon Palmer (@JolyonPalmer) September 25, 2015
Lotus confirmed via its Twitter account that it had been given access to the canteens used for the staff in Bernie Ecclestone’s VIP Paddock Club as the sport’s CEO ensured that the team did not go hungry.
If you’ve been wondering where we’ve been eating today… Mr E had us covered. #ThankYouBernie #JapaneseGP pic.twitter.com/5XKifIxAVD
— Lotus F1 Team (@Lotus_F1Team) September 25, 2015