December 9 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Lotus are close to naming their 2014 driver line-up, with Nico Hulkenberg set to fill the void left by Kimi Raikkonen alongside Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean has seemed destined to keep his seat at the Enstone-based Hethel-backed constructor after a string of impressive recent performances – continued by back to back podiums in Korea and Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.
Lotus are ready to take up their option in Grosjean’s current contract and following Finnish team-leader Raikkonen already confirming his winter return to Maranello, the remaining question is whether the Norfolk marque can secure Hulkenberg’s in demand signature as he departs Sauber.
“Romain did a great job,” said Lotus team principal Eric Boullier. “He is at the level we expected, what we have wanted him to do.
“We wanted him to establish himself as a driver like he is now and on top of that, since Kimi announced he was leaving, it has been up to him to step up and he has done that.
“I need to get written confirmation from my board – but Romain has a contract with us for next year. He has an option to be taken up and we have to do that in a few days, so we will see.”
The final confirmation seems to rest on the constructors’ financial future, including the 35pc stake being bought by the Quantum Motorsports consortium – briefly named Infinity Racing. A greater sponsorship with old owners Renault could also be on the cards – which would raise questions over future use of the Lotus name in Formula One.
Sorting the finances will mean securing Hulkenberg – who like Grosjean, has made impressive outings in recent weeks.
“Since he has been talking to us he has been doing a good job,” joked Boullier. “With the deals, we are edging in the right direction, but until things are signed and confirmed, we will see.
“Everything should fall in place soon, and when they do we will start to tick the boxes, and the engine is on the list of what we have to confirm. He (Hulkenberg) is our choice.”
Formula One returns to action with the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday, October 27.