Date: 3rd October 2013 at 9:08am
Written by:

Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier is hopeful that his team can select a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen without taking financial factors into account.

Following Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to quit Lotus for Ferrari and Red Bull’s decision to sign Daniel Ricciardo from sister team Toro Rosso, the driver market focus has shifted to Lotus.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg had both been in talks with Ferrari for 2014, but with Kimi on the move both drivers are now looking at new options for next year.

Hulkenberg is highly rated in the paddock and is seen by many as a future race winner and potential title challenger, in the right car. But he’s been plagued by bad decision, his move from Force India to Sauber came at the wrong time and he’s now found himself in limbo and squeezed out of Sauber.

Massa who has previously said to the media that he would retire from Formula One if he couldn’t find a competitive race seat could be a good choice for Lotus, with Brazilian bringing a whole host of experience with him to the team.

It would also help that he also shares a sponsor in Richard Mille. The watch making company is Massa’s personal sponsor as well as one of Lotus’ prime sponsors.

Both drivers have held talks with Lotus, but the team are in no rush to complete their driver line-up for 2014.

‘When it comes to drivers we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi – we are looking at where we are going to be in the next five years,’ We can afford to be patient, to ask the candidates to wait as we formulate our strategy for the coming years. Boullier said to Sky Sports.

‘I hope we do not have to take into account commercial considerations when making decisions on drivers because we have worked hard to build our financial strength without having to rely on sponsorship from a driver.

‘We want the strongest line-up possible to continue the progress made in recent seasons – that is the priority.’

Whilst it still remains a possibility that Lotus could sign both Massa and Hulkenberg, that option appears unlikely following the improvement in performances by Romain Grosjean.

Boullier has been very complimentary about Grosjean in recent weeks and it seems likely that he will stay with the team.