During the Abu Dhabi race weekend there was a lot of speculation regarding who will drive for Lotus in 2014, with certain media reports suggesting that Pastor Maldonado had already signed a contract with them.
The main reason for the driver uncertainty at Lotus is due to finance, with the team desperately attempting to obtain more financial backing in order to create a healthy budget that can be used to go racing in 2014.
The extent of the financial problems at Lotus were revealed during the weekend when Raikkonen publicly stated that he hadn’t been paid at all by Lotus, and nearly boycotted in protest. Certain members of the press reported that Romain Grosjean hadn’t been paid by the team this year either, however it was stated that he does have some backing from Lotus sponsor, Total.
Having recently read that Lotus have managed to secure financial backing for next year, it will now appear that Nico Hulkenberg is the favourite to replace Kimi Raikkonen and will partner Grosjean for 2014. Hulkenberg is apparently the preferred choice of the new investors to line up alongside Grosjean. It is believed that Lotus will use the prize money obtained for their performance in 2013 to pay Raikkonen and Grosjean the money they are due for 2013.
Many will be happy to see Hulkenberg in a competitive car that is capable of challenging for wins and podiums next year. I do however have a slight concern that Hulkenberg may join Lotus at the wrong time. Mainly due to their financial state, Lotus has seen key personnel leave the team throughout 2013, most notably James Allison, who has left for Ferrari, this will inevitably effect the competitiveness of the Lotus car in 2014 as well as any updates they may bring throughout the year. I therefore wouldn’t be surprised to see Hulkenberg finding it difficult to achieve podium finishes if he does join Lotus next year.