While the sport waited for a decision to emerge from Renault headquarters in Paris, with the French carmaker also mulling whether to quit the sport entirely, Ecclestone said he had made sure the hungry Lotus mechanics were being fed at Suzuka by giving them access to the catering in the VIP Paddock Club.
With cash-strapped Lotus embarrassingly locked out of their hospitality unit in Suzuka for a second day over a payment issue, Grosjean stopped short of confirming speculation he was about to leave for a fresh challenge – but only just.
Equipment was piled up outside the empty hospitality under a tarpaulin.
Left to talk to media huddled under umbrellas in the rain, Grosjean put on a courageous face but after Lotus officials completed scant mileage in Friday’s rain-soaked practice to avoid potential damage, he threw off any pretence. “As long as they catch up by tomorrow I’m happy”.
Despite his team’s problems, Grosjean finished third at the Belgian Grand Prix last month.
“It’s good to see the hospitality you get when you’re running out of food and the other teams open the door”, said Grosjean. “Look at Spa, we had bailiffs in the garage and we ended up on the podium”.
While Lotus will compete this weekend, its future is on the line as it returns to the High Court on Monday as it owes HMRC £2.7million in PAYE (income tax and national insurance) – £900,000 each for June, July and August.
“It is a situation which is very tricky”.
That action was later settled, as was a winding up petition brought by a supplier, while a problem paying Pirelli for tyres in Hungary was blamed on a delayed bank transaction.
Lotus F1 Team driver Grosjean recalls one of his strong performances towards the back end of the 2013 season, when he made a great start from fourth on the grid to lead into the first corner, and battled hard with both Red Bull Racing drivers to finish third.