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Lotus hoping to avoid need for pay driver in 2014

ESPN Staff
September 27, 2013 « FIA confirms Pirelli will stay in F1 | Raikkonen cautious on back injury »
Lotus is in no rush to name a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen © Getty Images

Lotus is hoping it will not have take a pay driver next year to compliment its budget as it weighs up possible replacements for Kimi Raikkonen.

Raikkonen will leave the team at the end of the year to go to Ferrari after Lotus could not offer him the financial guarantees he wanted for the future. Nico Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa are believed to be among the front runners to replace the Finn, with the latter rumoured to have significant financial backing from Brazil.

However, team principal Eric Boullier is hoping he will not have to employ a pay driver as he looks to secure a budget with new investors.

"When it comes to drivers, we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi," Boullier said. "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 - and I hope not to 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."

Romain Grosjean is expected to stay at the team next year, and Boullier thinks the Frenchman's recent performances have proved he can lead the team forward.

"With Kimi leaving Enstone at the end of the year, Romain knows he has the possibility to build the team up more around himself," Boullier said. "If you look at the last five races, he has done a great job. Since Germany, everybody has noticed that he has clearly 'switched on' and you can see the highs in every race. Whether we've been fighting for the podium or struggling a little bit Romain has clearly been matching Kimi's performances, which is no small achievement when you consider the World Championship winning calibre of his team-mate.

"The Romain of the last two months is the one we all believed he would become, and I hope he keeps improving. If he continues in this way, it means he is 'on it' and delivering the results we all know he is capable of, which is very positive for his prospects in 2014."