F1 Winter Break
Driver market starting to move as Maldonado edges towards Lotus
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Oct 2013   |  1:03 pm GMT  |  284 comments

[Updated] The F1 driver market is starting to kick into gear for next season with the logjam over who will drive for Lotus appearing close to clearing.

Although Pastor Maldonado remains tight lipped, it seems that he has signed or is about to sign for Lotus for next year, Venezuelan oil backer PDVSA having reached an agreement with Williams over severance.

“At the moment I don’t have any confirmation. We will see later. I hope to have a clearer idea before the end of the season,” said Maldonado in Abu Dhabi this afternoon.

“There is a lot of speculation. It’s not signed. It’s still quite early.

“I want to be competitive, to have a competitive car and get good results like we did last year.”

Most sponsor contracts have performance clauses in them and with Williams have scored only one point in 2013, which is likely to be short of the baseline expectation. The suggestion is that PDVSA will be able to exit the deal without paying a significant amount of compensation.

Williams is in talks with Felipe Massa among others, while Valtteri Bottas looks set to stay with the team. GP2 championship contender and Mercedes reserve driver Sam Bird’s name is also in the frame, with support from Mercedes, who will supply Williams powertrains next season.

Lotus boss Eric Boullier said in India that either Maldonado or Nico Hulkenberg will occupy the seat next to Romain Grosjean. Hulkenberg’s other option is Force India or staying where he is at Sauber.

He’s had a strong season, but his bodyweight has been cited as a disadvantage next season with the advent of the new hybrid turbo powertrains, which add a lot of weight to the car. Hulkenberg’s signature was dependent on the investment coming in from the Quantum Group, which has turned into a protracted saga. Boullier has been anxious for his board to make a decision so he does not lose the chance to hire the highest quality driver available.

It is conceivable that Hulkenberg will find himself still standing when the game of musical chairs concludes and the music stops..

Meanwhile Max Chilton could be on the move. The Marussia team would like to keep him, but he is also in talks with Force India for whom he has driven in Young Driver tests before making his race debut this year. Also in the frame at Force India is McLaren protege Kevin Magnussen. McLaren could place the Dane alongside Jules Bianchi at Marussia, but would prefer a car further up the grid. Force India is leaving all its options open and has said it will not announce drivers until December.

Paul di Resta is in an anxious position as the Force India seat looks an attractive option to several drivers with budget. His strong relationship was via Mercedes and former motorsport director Norbert Haug, who was replaced in that role by Toto Wolff last Christmas.

The Force India team has always prided itself on taking drivers on merit rather that for budget reasons, although Adrian Sutil brings some funding from Medion and Capri Sun.

Marussia meanwhile, already has Jules Bianchi under contract for next season, a supply of Ferrari powertrains and now some commercial income from the central F1 prize fund thanks to tying up a bilateral agreement with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC last week.

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Hulk should consider himself very lucky. Lotus look set to replace Williams as the rear-guard of the midfield.

Stay put, Hulk. Better things will come.


This is the same Lotus that will get a much bigger share of the F1 financial pie as a result of finishing the season so high up in the constructors championship, and the same Williams that have scored a massive one point all year?

Lotus are still very much within sight of finishing second in the WCC this year, and we all know that second means a lot of money.

Much as I'd love to see Williams back at the top, it seems almost as likely as Nuvolari winning the WDC next year.

If Lotus end up behind Williams over the course of next year, I will have my hat buttered and ready. Will you do the same if Lotus finish ahead of Williams?


This would explain why Hulk is not feeling well in Abu Dabi perhaps?


I agree Phil, Lotus is doing well but they where running a tight ship till now with a strong technical team. With the head of this team already in Ferrari, with shaky finances as demonstrated by the non payments to Raikonnen a few months ago, this is a team that is more likely to go down than up.

Hulk is a strong driver, he should remain with Sauber to keep the link open with Ferrari, as the seat of Alonso is looking to open in 2015. He is still very young and talented, he needs to be a bit more patient and he will get the timing to be on his side.


Today Kimi said he has not been paid a single Euro as of now. Hulk should not go to Lotus next year, he will be worse off than staying put. Cab Sauber afford not to have him next year? Well, if Sauber wants to score any points they better be.

Tornillo Amarillo

I would like to know now the probabilities about if Sauber and Force India would be more competitive in 2014 than Lotus... and why.


I am not so sure Hulk can even stay put. One seat is going to the young Russian with a fat wallet, and the other one will probably be occupied by Gutierrez (with an equally fat wallet). At this rate poor old Hulk will be without a drive next season - very sad state of affairs 🙁


If Sauber does not have Hulk next year, they will most likely not collect any points and sink to the bottom 3. They will lose at least 10M prize money compared to this year. Their reputation and team morale will take a hit. I am afraid that will be the end of Sauber. They will probably disappear soon after.


I'd like a confirmation on this, I read a report earlier in the year saying Gutierrez was no longer sponsored by Telmex so he's unlike to retain the Sauber seat.


If your report is correct, then I would agree with you that Gutierrez is unlikely to retain the seat - he hasn't exactly set the world alight this season and without backing, it's difficult to see what differentiates him from a number of other drivers.


McLaren maybe: Hulk or Perez, I'd take the Hulk.


if Hulk is without drive, I'll stop to watch F1. this sport is getting ridiculous.


I think Hulk may end up at Force India, he knows the team, it looks like there's no seat at Sauber , with Sirotkin and Gutierrez looking likely to be there next year. With Maldonado looking like going to Lotus, then I guess that leaves him only the choice of Force India , but there again, it maybe that the weight issue may prevent him gaining a drive, which he has more than earned for next season.


It's rather a sad state of affairs regarding the Hulk, and leads me to say that F1 needs to drop the phrase, " the best drivers in the world, " to the best monied drivers in the world need only to apply.

If Nico doesn't get a seat as you say Tim, then the Scuderia and Dominecali should immediately hire him as their reserve driver, in the event that the teaming of Alonso and Raikkonen doesn't work out.



There also seems to be a natural assumption, from di Monty also, that no matter what, Vettel will go to Ferrari..

I made the exact same point on another thread. SV knows exactly which side his bread is buttered. He even extended his RBR contract by a further year when the new regulations were delayed - this gives him a good chance to see the lie of the land. If Ferrari are still performing at their current level, and RBR and SV are still winning the championships he would be mad to walk away.


+1. Very spot on!


+1 Very spot on!


Ferrari drivers in 2015 could be very interesting.

If their engine is slower and they can't improve the aero again, then surely Alonso and maybe Kimi will have had enough, epsecially with McLaren Honda waiting in the wings.

If Alonso consistently beats Kimi on Sundays and Kimi struggles on Saturdays, which is by no means definite, Alonso could still leave and Kimi could be in a similar situation to the end of 08/09.

There also seems to be a natural assumption, from di Monty also, that no matter what, Vettel will go to Ferrari. Well, if they are not at the front next year they why would Seb want to go to Ferrari, especially if they are 3rd/4th/5th best. Why stop any chance of matching Schumis record and join a team that cannot move forward like others throughout a season.

Hulk or di Resta at Ferrari '15 is a possibility, unless things get so bad that the big pay drivers start getting their wallets/companies/countries into the larger teams as well. ;(


How on earth do you work that one out?


Money coming from Quantum or PDVSA don't change the E22 V6 turbo car. That show you are frustated.


What makes you so sure Williams will outperform Lotus next year? Do you have that much confidence that the Merc engine (oops sorry- I mean Power Unit) will be so much better than the Renault one?

Can't be based on resources as Williams will now be far worse off than Lotus next year with transfer of PDVSA money to Lotus


That's, Interesting if True!? I Like Sauber, and hope they do climb the ranks aggressively in 2014! I like Hulkenburg also, and wish good things for him!


>What makes you so sure Williams will outperform Lotus next year?

As they say in all these shampoo adverts, "here comes the science bit"...

((Massa Sponsors + Less smashed car parts) - (Maldo PDVSA money)) + (Merc Big Boost) + (Pats Processes) + (reg and tyre changes) + (+/- Brawn possibility) + (Williams Underdog Feelgood Factor) + (Frank)


(Allison loss) + (Renault Little Boost) + (Pastor Cash - manufacturing more wings) - (Kimi cool) + (reg and tyre changes) + (sweary Engineer) + (salary uncertainty) - (missing performance as the boss wanted Hulk not me) + (+/- Grosjeans up and downs) + (+/- Total vs PDVSA loss) + (still cool black and gold paintjob).



PDVSA are having legal troubles and may not front the cash for crashdinado. Massa's money backing is set to replace PDVSA from what ive heard. If Massa gets Williams seat, gets his mojo back, some good tech heads and Merc power things could come good for ol Frank 🙂


Win Win situation for Williams.

They get paid to lose Maldo. That contract they agreed with PDVSA was a masterpiece. Bernie himself couldn't have done better.


Williams having to take on massa is not win win


[mod]You may not be a fan of MAS (nor am I), but it's foolish to suggest that he wouldn't be a net positive to Williams.
He's consistently performed compared to most of his peers in cars that didn't suit his style. He's smart and articulate, so he could certainly bring some technical/developmental insights to the team.
It would be a good place for him to wind down, and they could do way worse. Actually they have been doing way worse on driver signings for years.


Is Williams team a "black belt" for getting severance in broken contracts?

How long is the list of large payouts that Williams got thanks to contracts?

I think I remember; BMW, Button, now PDVSA. I'm sure I'm forgetting at least 2 contracts that were reportedly terminated early and Williams got paid big for it. Was it RBS? I think so. Who else?


Didn't Jenson have to buy his way out of a contract with Williams - I only vaguely recall this so could be a bum steer!


No, it was the kind where you drown your sorrows.

Nice retort Sebee!


That BAR wasn't exactly solid gold though was it 😉


I think Honda paid for that buy out with some fat coin, didn't they? They wanted Jenson so badly, then they gave him a BAR.


Was it Toyota that paid them off to use other engines as they were pulling out of F1?


Not really, if they were getting $30m a year from PDVSA and they have less than that in compensation

It will take some replacing!


There is no guarantee that PDVSA can continue to send money out of the country given the stability of the Venezuela government. As the Lotus owner, would you gamble on this? Over 2+ years Hulk had 27 top ten compared to Pastor’s 7 top ten. In terms of RET Pastor had twice as many than Hulk. As well, Pastor had many penalties and reprimand than Hulk over the same period of time.


James, if the sign Pasta, does that mean they end their relationship with Total? I was under the impression that Total was partially responsible for RoGro having that seat.


Is it possible they are using this story to help negotiate a better deal from Total? They could have leaked it saying PDVSA are willing to pay 30 mill then Total up their bid to match it. Nothing has been officially confirmed so I assume they are still in negotiations


Yes looking into that


Massa sponsorship money, no?


Williams will save money though having to build less spare front wings!! 😉


Lol 🙂


James if neither Hulkenberg and Maldonado do not go to Lotus is Massa back in the game?


I think it's dreadful if Lotus take Maldonado (and his $$$) over the well-deserving Hulk.

Grosjean, who is just beginning to shine, and brightly at that, within likely one of the best environments in the grid, will have the same rude awakening that Filipe got, when Alonso went to Ferrari, that is, Kimi's not so bad as a team mate.

I expect the good times and good chemistry to end at Lotus, as their carbon-fibre operations realize, 'hey, Grosjean wasn't all that bad, after all!'


LMAO.. This is exactly what Lotus deserve. Grosjean is a very fast driver- but it takes him forever to adjust to new tyres, car. He might win a few races -- but I will stick my neck out and say - he will not even come close to being a world champion - he makes idiotic decisions on track - even when he's having a great race - like India and even more idiotic comments off track like his defense of incidents this year and last year. Then he wonders why Kimi doesn't talk to him ? ( not that Kimi talks that much anyway)

Given a good car I can see Maldonado doing well at Lotus ( in the mid pack)and I can see the tangles of all tangles between these 2 on track many times!- I see them as "twins" in terms of mentality and racing style and actually given what Maldonado did in Spain last year- I think he's a real chance to beat Romain occasionally .

Either way Lotus will not go forward next year - they will be lucky to hold ground but more likely to go backwards quickly. Given the embarrassment of India and the signing of two crash test dummies- if I was Quantum I would think twice about throwing them a nickel!!.The irony is- had Lotus retained Raikkonen - Quantum would have signed. - I think this was why Lotus was so burned- and the Rabbit tweet..Had Quantum signed Raikkonen he may have stayed- but I'm glad he didn't because Permaine is twit and Lotus of lack strategy sense even if they build a good car.


Elie, I just watched FP2.

I predict a Grosjean pole for Abu Dhabi, and I would be surprised if he finally gets the win.

To be perfectly honest, I am not sure why I have such a strong negative reaction to Mal, but he always seems to bring a dark cloud over everything around him; Williams?!?

Yes, Lotus have made some mistakes, and they never have really got it all together, at least on a regular basis.

But, look at what they have done, compared with the other top four teams, on a fraction of the budget.

While Grosjean continues to display errors in judgement, he is trending well, upwards, and I expect him to continue that path.

As for what to expect from Lotus next year, who knows? They could dial into an innovation, that no one else gets, and is difficult to replicate mid-season, and do very well.

Next year is wide open.

But I agree, on the prospects of Lotus' fate next year, if they get the man that makes everything go worse.


for context, Elie is a strong contender for Kimi's biggest fan on this site.


I rate the hulk as well, but the guys in the know, ie team bosses etc, seem hesitant to give him a shot, they obviously no more than us, prehaps hes not as good as people on here think..


Hulkenberg should definitely have a decent drive but Maldonado has proven he can win in a quick car so he deserves the Lotus drive. If Maldonado wasn't F1 quality he wouldn't have been able to hold off Alonso throughout the 2012 Spanish GP; under such conditions, a sub par driver would have thrown it in the sand. Maldonado, Grosjean and Hulkenberg are the future stars of Formula 1.



I am not convinced that the pluses of having Mal as a driver outweigh the cons, at all, quite the opposite.

Grosjean and Hulkenberg are the rising stars of that generation.

I'm not sure all is known about that dramatic statistical variance in Barcelona.


I'd have to agree. Grosjean and Maldonado have broadly similar terms of experience in F1. But it seems as if Grosjean has finally turned the corner and is putting his experience in F1 to good use and it performing well. Maldonado is still making too many errors - both driving ones in terms of spins and crashes, but also errors of judgement such as the move he put on Bottas in Japan.

I do rate Hulkenberg too and I cannot see why McLaren wouldn't sign him alongside Button if they could.

I'd be surprised if Williams weren't talking to him, but if they need the sponsorship money that they're losing with PDVSA, then the rumoured $10m that comes with Massa would be helpful.

Kate Walker on ESPN's website is leaning towards Paul Di Resta not being in F1 next year. That would free up another seat at Force India. Add to that the stories last weekend that Sirotkin might not get a seat at Sauber next year... and that Petrov might be drafted in to that seat because of the Russian sponsorship the team has signed up with, and it looks like Hulkenberg's only real options are:

Sauber if the team get rid of Guttierez, but I was under the impression he brought TelMex money with him?

Force India to replace Sutil or Di Resta

McLaren in the place of Perez, but I reckon that's unlikely.

Williams, but nobody seems to think that's an option or it would have been rumoured.

Lotus. I reckon this will happen if the Quantum sponsorship money comes through or if Lotus manage to get P2 in the Constructors' championship - then they might not need a driver's personal sponsorship money as much.


Yeah because Maldonado's never Thrown it in the sand before....


Not on this occasion, when it counted most.


Completely agree. It is sad to see pay drivers bumping quality drivers in F1. Let's see how Maldonado does against Grosjean. It will be his one chance to get rid of the pay driver label.


Maldonado was GP2 champion with 6 wins in the year. He has also won an F1 race only last season with a car that was certainly not the best.

Granted, Hulkenberg would be unlucky to not get a seat but to pick on Maldonado just shows a lack of knowledge.

Most of the other drivers have done less in their careers than Maldonado has.

Care to comment on Chilton?


If you're talking about GP2 you have to know what Pastor did in GP2 does not come anywhere close to what Hulk did there which include a points gap of 25 to the runner up Petrov and 64 points clear of his Team-mate "Pastor Maldonado"


Its a done deal..... Maldonado to Lotus.

Such a shame as I really wanted to see what The Hulk could do in a competitive car.

Poor Hulkenberg! When will this guy get a decent drive / car?


If it happens, that'll be twice that Maldonado's oil money has bumped Hulkenberg out of a seat.

It was a silver lined cloud as it turned out mind with Williams


2014 Australian GP. Turn 1, they crash into each other 🙁


Is Hulkenberg really all that special? Surely if he was, other teams (and especially top teams) would be wanting to snap him up despite weight penalties, sponsorship etc. After all, his ties to McLaren and Mercedes have never amounted to anything.

Has he honestly set the world alight in F1? His recent upturn in form is really an upturn in form of his Sauber, as the team have made advances (a little late in the game) on their use of exhaust gases. Aside from that he's just a good driver, with an eviable reputation in lower formulae, beating a less experienced team-mate.

Maldonado isn't a bad prospect for Lotus. He has one lap pace (which could couter-act some of the weakness in their car/approach to qualifying), and he's proven that when the big chance comes along (ie - Spain) he can grab it with both hands and hold on to it to the finish. Also, given how the team have nurtured Grosjean from his earlier days as a wrecking ball with a V8 and wings, they might well be good for Maldonado's personality and driving style as well. To be fair to him, he always seems ambitious, driven and aggressive.

Tornillo Amarillo

I think HULK is that special, better than ROSBERG, GROSJEAN, DI RESTA, SUTIL, MALDONADO, MASSA and he deserves a drive.

Also if he had a sponsor like TOTAL, PDVDA or PETROBRAS, who can doubt for a second it is sure HULK would get the best seat available?


He has matched Barrichello (an experienced driver) in his rookie season, and got pole position in that Williams. He matched / marginally out-performed di Resta (another proven driver), and was in contention for a win in the Force India. He has destroyed Gutierrez this year, and not just finished in the points, but has finished right up in the top 4 and 5 in a Sauber which is good, but not that good.

So, yes, he is really all that special.


Aside from a slightly fortunate pole in Brazil, I don't think Hulk matched Rubens at all in 2010. I do remember him kicking a tyre wall in Valencia while Barrichello dragged a Williams Cosworth into the points...




I have a terrible feeling that if the weight limit isn't increased at some point in the near future we may be seeing Hulkenberg winning races in DTM before long.


Yeah, and that would be great for DTM and terrible for F1. Pathetic. It would be kind of like Liverpool selling Suarez to Arsenal for the quid!


More worrying is the young drivers coming through who will be judged on weight and wallet.

Tornillo Amarillo


1. has HULK changed Manager these years? I cannot understand his bad luck, or is it a matter of how the negotiations were carried out? Do you have an opinion about what managers can do with little or not sponsor in the bag when they have to look for a seat?

2. if you were an investor like Quantum, do you buy a participation of Lotus BEFORE or AFTER a big sponsor like PDVSA commit his funds? I think in theory maybe it's the same (if the team has already the sponsor maybe the price of the participation is higher?). Anyway I think is always better to have PDVSA... so maybe MALDONADO is already in the Lotus seat and HULK out, again...


Rumours are that the Quantun deal fell through, so Lotus is turning to Maldonado and PDVSA to fill the gap. But then there is the problem of the TOTAL sponsorship.

I believe Hulk will stay put or sign with Force India, as has been rumoured, in order to keep his options open for Ferrari. Do not be surprised if Ferrari fields the Hulk-Bianchi duo on 2016.


What? Ferrari take on unproven race drivers suddenly? Never going to happen...


Especially in a season when new turbo technology puts a premium on experience


Why would any team want to keep Chilton? Boggles the mind...

On an unrelated note. As teams have to pay X amount of money per point to participate in the next season, shouldn't Red Bull be trying to not score any more points, as these would simply be an unneeded cost. Or, is there prize money from each individual race which makes it worth it?


The entrance few - basic fee + points related fee is still less than earnings at season end - not to mention stats, records , pshchological domination of opposition leading into new formula .


Staying in F1 you could maybe make an argument. He had a difficult start, and I don't think he'll ever win races, but he is learning and at least he's been getting better.

BUT a promotion?! To Force India?! Even if he brings money I don't see the logic at all - unless it is as a test driver (that might not be a bad move). It would set a very disappointing precedent to have him leapfrog over several drivers who, in terms of achievement, appear to be more qualified for the position (of a race seat).


The cost is not enough to bother mid tier teams and above in normal years. Sure this year many mid tier teams would probably want to save $1M here or there, if they could not change their constructors position.

But in racing you would rather have the stats (wins, podiums, etc) than the unspent money.


It is the drivers that pay per point for their superlicense. So, Kimi certainly has no reason to bother collecting points as every point he earns for Lotus in the WCC will cost him an extra €1,000, and he has shown he doesn't give a crap about Lotus.


Actually, thinking about it, it's in his interest to do as badly as he can, as this was Ferrari will have a better chance of 2nd in the WCC!


Given that Lotus didnt pay Kimi until the seasons end in '12 and now it seems Kimi must sue them to get this years salary, the "don't give a crap (or a pound)" is on the side of the team owners?

Lotus should be able to pay Kimi due to their racing sucess which is driven by him to a degree and his results. Still Maldonado cash would assure the Raikkonnen account will be paid!

Kimi's performance this year and last has been exceptional by any standard, and he is rightly in the top four best drivers out there.

I prefer Hulk over Maldonado, but the Hulk has switched teams a few times already, and it seems to me that this is not liked by the Team owners unless the river has achieved a high level of success. For example, Button couldn't find a rive anywhere as Honda languished and went out of the series. If Ross had not been there, Button could have easily slid through the cracks to DTM...


He gets paid a retainer plus significantly more than 1,000 per point. Rumour is it is more like 40,000 per point, so it is in his interest to score as many as possible.


What makes Kimi's position more complicated is that whatever his current employer, Lotus, stands to gain financially will come at the expense of his future employer, Ferrari. Would Kimi be happy with Lotus coming second in the constructor's championship, and Ferrari fourth, or would he rather have it the other way around?

Of course, one has to assume that he is "professional" enough to race as well as he can, but the situation will doubtlessly have an impact on his motivation.


But he didn't get paid that bonus amount per point. Now that he leaves Lotus, he can sue them if they fail to pay, but for sure Kimi don't want Lotus to be 2nd and get more money than Ferrari, giving that he is going to Ferrari next year.

And certainly not after they shout at him on the team radio.


I don't think paying an extra 1,000 per point will bother Kimi, do you?


I don't know about the drivers but I know that the teams pay for each point they gain


My guess is that their sponsors would be furious if they deliberately avoided racing near the front. And in so, losing plenty of air-time.


Only one of their drivers needs to be near the front - the other can have an alternator failure.


I think that's spot on. Infiniti etc don't care if mateschitz has to cough up a few extra million to enter - they are pouring in giant sums of money for TV exposure - besides can you see Red Bull trying to get Vettel to throw his own race statistics? They can't even stop him trying for fastest laps when he's already won by a mile 🙂


Why would any team want to keep Chilton ?

Easy - $$$$$$$ , and lots of it 🙂


Where does it come from? Is there a sponsor or does his dad just keep opening his wallet?


I don't really know. His Dad is the Chairman, or CEO, of an international insurance company. He will obviously be well off as a result of that, but he will also know a lot of other people in similar positions, which may give him access to sponsorship - just a guess, doubtless, someone on here will know the answer.


There is no way Chilton would be taken over Di Riesta, surely


I don't get the Chilton thing at all. Despite the best efforts of the British media / pundits to convince you otherwise, he has been destroyed by Bianchi this season.


Damage was done for Chilton by round one. Max had all the winter testing while Bianchi was parachuted into the seat at the last minute. What was the quali margin again?


None of the British pundits have been singing his praises. Where do you get that idea?


Ahh, ok. I only watch sky from parade lap to flag. Legally of course. Oh so legally.


Several on Sky F1 have commented on what a great job he has done, especially recently.


Great question- I have been wondering about that for a while. This seems to be an obvious loophole/potential in this new payment formula. James can you confirm the specifics on this- any reason RBR should try and score more points if each one costs them money?


I am talking about finishing 1st and 2nd every race..not at the end of the season. The papers are published every day/week, not every year.

The more advertising, the more chances of your product being sold, which in this case is the Red Bull can of energy drink.


Well that makes sense I guess. As I said I am sure there is something preventing them from "throwing" the races or the new plan would not have been implemented


Advertising. Finishing 1st and 2nd and making the papers and media articles is the best advertising you can get. The money which RBR will pay for the points earned from now until the end of season is peanuts compared with the revenue they will get from advertising.


Well no that does not explain it as even if they DNF all remaining races they will still finish #1


Is Williams looking for a pay driver? If not, Hulkenberg could return home. Williams Mercedes looks like an outside bet.

Grosjean and Maldo in one team together? Who could have imagined?

2013 will be remembered as the longest silly season ever.


James - You think the interest in Chilton by Force India is anything other than financial? Or has he done a better job on the track this season than it looks like (to my untrained eye at least)?


Well, at least Chilton has kept the car away from the walls. He is the only driver to have finish every race, which is no mean feat.


It is probably better to push hard and race occasionally crashing than to just drive a nice clean slow race to the finish.


He's hardly racing with anyone though is he?

As long as he makes it through the 1st corner without ending up in the wall it's just like a long test session, interupted every now and again to jump out of the way of the leaders.


I've wondered this - perhaps the explanation is that Chilton is pretty good but Bianchi is just awe inspiring but lined up for Ferrari in 2-3 years. (I'm not convinced personally I think it's just Chiltons family sponsorship money but if it was a charitable guess!)


So what are Lotus going to be called next year because i though they were losing that name at the end of the season as the Genin group get no money from lotus for that.


In fact they pay for the Lotus name !! Guess I shouldn't be surprised if their changing it!. But so doubt they will given how much effort and cost to get the branding. If they end up without Major sponsors and no Hulk then it's possible


Wow! Another new name and livery after just 2/3 years respectively...


Lotus Group never paid for use of the name.


Pathetic state of F1 where such talent-less monkies get whatever they want and talent like Hulkenberg is been hung out to dry...


+1. A real shame


Very unfortunate news for everyone other than Maldonado. Lack of funds are another nail in Williams coffin. Lack of proven drivers are another in Lotus. Toto Wolf is a snake, not looking good for for PDR. Although I am not a fan of Hulkenberg there is little doubt he is a fantastic talent and it would be criminal for him to miss out on a decent seat.


Romain/Pastor @Lotus

Felipe/Valtieri @Williams

Hulk will find his way, somewhere.


At Force India?


I can't believe we're talking like this about Maldonado. Maldonado! I don't even...... >.<

I would have thought Genii and / or Quantum or whatever they're called this week would have seen the sense in hiring the Hulk.


Hahaha, I understand your frustration. Now, please excuse me whilst I dance a jig that Dick Dastardly is headed elsewhere!


Unfortunate this, I would really have liked to see Hulk in the Lotus. Still, Pastor's won more races than Grosjean has and is far from a bad drive, he's also not been crashing into all and sundry this year either.


Pastore : 2 DNF (accident) and 1 DNF (KERS)


I don' believe I mentioned DNF's in regard to 2012. It's an undisputed fact that he ran into other drivers in kack handed moves in Monaco, Canada, Europe, UK, Germany and Hungary at least. It's pretty much undisputed that his failure to score any points between his Spanish win and the Japanese GP is almost entirely down to him (lack of car's pace in Italy and Singapore hydraulic failure aside).

As I said, in this respect Maldonado is much improved.


The Monaco accident was Chilton's fault, so 1 retirment from a spin in Australia compared to running into drivers on 8 consecutive races last year, certainly a huge improvement in that respect.


8 DNF doesn't mean running into drivers!

2012 :

5 DNF (acc., coll.), 3 DNF (eng., punct., hydr.)

aus p13 accident w alonso hit the wall

mal p19 engine

chi p8

bah ab puncture

spa p1

mon ab collision

can p13

eur p12 20s penal. collision w Hamilton

bri p16 collision w perez

ger p15

hun p13

bel ab -5 grid collision w Glock

ita p11

sin ab hydraulics

jap p8

kor p14

ind p16

abu p5


Jeez - The Hulk just can't get a break at the moment! He's got the luck of Mark Webber at the moment.

If Pastor goes to Lotus, it is yet more evidence for the truism that money talks louder than skill.

This has been the bane of Hulkenburg's career, and is a major issue generally with the way Formula One operates at the moment.


I truly believe Lotus will drop to mid field next year, with James Allison and other top technical talents leaving. In this business top engineering talents are not easy to come by and as such they cannot be easily replaced. As well, one of the key element of developing the car is the feedback of the driver and with Pastor/Romain working along the new technical team, I have serious doubt that they will get it right. Therefore it is better for Hulk to stay at Sauber and wait for opening in 2015. I believe there will be opportunities at McLaren and Ferrari come 2015. This year Hulk has made his salary 10 times over by single-handedly vaulting Sauber from 9th position to 7th position and as a result Sauber gets to collect at least 10M more prize money. He is worth his weight in gold.


You may be very right, one thing is to make a well born single seater evolve (the E21), which seems to be feasible by any good engineer. And another is to create one from scratch, under a completely new set of rules. James Allison is not there any more. The forecast looks gloomy.


"He is worth his weight in gold."

Which is around £2m at the current gold price. So, if he indeed gets Sauber that £10m, they certainly should retain him, if they know what's good for them.


I couldn't agree more, I think Lotus are in decline at the moment, and I think Sauber would actually be a better bet next year for Hulkenberg. Lotus are obviously in dire need of cash, and its a reflection of their current predicament that they need to hire Maldonado. I imagine they will be in the Midfield scrap next year with Sauber anyway.

If Hulk stays at Sauber and keeps performing miracles with it, his day will come. Some drivers have a faster path to the top than others - Jenson had 9 years in F1 before becoming world champ, so there's plenty of time for Hulk yet, provided he can keep his seat in the midfield for now.


Spot on about the Lotus. Couldn't have said it better.


You could be right. The investors in Lotus must be having some sleepless nights.

Things do look rather uncertain. All the talk about securing finances and making good the money they owe Kimi - still hasn't been sewn-up after all this time.

When Kimi signed for Ferrari I thought he may have acted too hastily, since Lotus were close to securing financing.

We are now in November and still no news on the financing?

Looks like Kimi made the right call.

Not sure how much 2014 car development is possible with financing so tight?

One can punch above their weight with a reasonable but not RB sized budget. But if you can't pay for a good driver like Kimi and have to resort to pay drivers like Maldonado, it doesn't have the right ingredients for a Top 4 team.

Anyway - lets see how this plays out. Fascinating.


Good grief wouldn't it be a tragedy if Di Resta was replaced by Chilton? I mean It's pretty clear he doesn't deserve to move further up the grid at the expense of any of the current drivers.


It would be ridiculous if drivers like Di Resta, Perez and Hulkenberg are left without a drive. Also, there are drivers outside F1 with experience scoring podiums like Petrov and Kovalainen who deserve another chance ahead of Gutierez, Pic, van der Garde and Chilton. I would like to see Kevin Magnussen and Jaime Alguarsuarri given a go.


Don't forget Timo Glock. Cast aside by F1 way before his time was up.

nikolaos peroulas

I always thought that the Maldonado/Lotus combination wouldnt work because of the current tie in with Total. Althought Grosjean isnt considered a pay driver, he does have the Total tie in....


There is no justice left in formula 1.

its unbelievable that a future world champ like Hulkenburg cant even get half a decent drive for next year.

Pay drivers have ruined Formula 1.


future champion, you have great faith haha


Completely agree! It's a joke... Or I wish it is. A real shame


Maldonado isn't liked (personality wise), but the facts are he showed real speed and potential in 2012.

A few front row starts in a Williams and his performance in Spain was textbook. If Alonso/Hamilton had pulled that off that win in a Williams it would have gone down as one of the greatest ever drives. Because it's Maldonado it's seen as a bit flukey.

Sure Hulkenberg is a real talent too, but it's not night and day between them both speed wise.

If I was Hulkenberg now I'd go to Whitmarsh and offer to drive for nothing in 2014.


You are so right about Maldonado, glad someone else thinks the same, and I rather like his personality!

Hulkenberg to Mclaren sounds right as well, to replace Button perhaps.


I can't see Button going anywhere until he's had enough of F1. He loves Honda and Japan and Honda love him, He's well liked at Mclaren and he seems to like it there, so although they've not done well this year, I don't see JB quitting until he's had another good shot at the title, probably in 2016


I think you are probably correct, but I think Button is to comfortable at Mclaren.

Adrian Newey Jnr

I'm starting to think that Pastor's win in Spain was a gift from Bernie to Frank in return for the loyalty Frank has shown to him. Arguably getting rid of Adam Parr was a similar favour.


Agreed Maldinado is fast


Maldonado is fast when he's quick, but has wasted so much for himself and for Williams. That is the problem. And when he's not quick he is making stupid and dangerous moves.




If Alonso/Hamilton were in the Williams in 2013, I think Bottas wouldn't be close to them in the race; and in Hamilton's case - qualifying too.

I think it's quite clear Maldonado is no Alonso/Hamilton.

I'm not saying that he shouldn't be in F1.

I believe that Maldonado/Grosjean is a second tier team of drivers, compared to the Top 3.

Imagine if Ferrari/RB/Merc were to field Maldonado/Grosjean in 2013 - I doubt they would be able to compete for the WCC/WDC against SV/Ricciardo, Alonso/Kimi, Hamilton/Rosberg.

Lotus being forced to accept pay drivers because they have yet to secure financing, is relegating them to a 2nd tier team, albeit one of the stronger 2nd tier teams.

Just speculation on my part of course. What do I know about running an F1 team from my barstool.


My bar stool says that Riccardo has a lot to prove aswell.. Very second tier!


They would still go for Pérez because he has money and McLaren is finding it tough like the other teams. The few teams who are not cash poor are part of other businesses. I think hulk should try for test role at McLaren next year with an option for buttons or Pérez's seat in 2015 as the engines are free and they will have more cash as I guess the Honda tie up will bring sponsors rushing through the door.


I have been a big fan of Lotus for a while, as they have always managed to be competitive on a smaller budget, if (and it seems to be true) they have taken CRASHtor Maldonado over Nico. i will simply loose respect for them.

(not that they will care they get the PDVSA Money, worth more than my arm chair support i guess)


You know something? I mostly agree with you.

This would be an very big blunder.

Pastor is a very good driver (his win at Monmeló was well deserved), but the Hulk is a champion in the making.

James, are there any people in the F1 community who doubt about Quantum Motorsports existing at all?


Of course, they "exist". They are the renamed "infinity racing", a major shareholder of the Lotus team. What Lotus needs, and what has so far not been forthcoming, is more money from the people behind the group poured into the team.

"Quantum" or "infinity" isn't a normal sponsor, in the sense that it's not a brand that sees F1 sponsorship as a marketing opportunity. It's a front for a group of rich private investors, whose motives and behaviour are difficult to predict.


Yes there are. Few deals that go on for so long, come through in the end.

If Maldonado move has been made it tells its own story


I've lost a lot of respect for Lotus' management after the "get the &@#% out of the way" incident.

Leaders who use expletives are closet playground bullies.

There's a difference between the above and "Hey bro, how are you &@#%er?"

Use of expletives to express surprise or friendly teasing is quite different from using it in an unkind/hurtful/bullying fashion.

Tornillo Amarillo

I think CHILTON has his budget from his father-AON related.

I think he is the slowest driver with the quickest money from a sponsor, maybe the best example of a "pay driver".

Pay drivers is another feature of this Formula 1 era, alongside DRS-overtakings.


Hi James.

Will DRS be scrapped next year?


Nooooo not mine clearance maldonado at lotus...really want to see the hulk get a competitive drive,

Only upside is that bottas would be likely to keep his seat if maldonado goes.

You mention force india normally go for driver quality rather than money, however max chilton is surely a pay driver... He did not achieve in gp2

Hope PDR does not get overlooked- how coud they choose max over him....Money only not skill,

If max gets force india bet buanchi will be regetting his decision to stay at maurussia


Boullier said last week or two weeks back, that he wants Hulk and has sent the proposal to his board, and it still hasn't been done yet!

Now, we have Maldonado with his $30M funding, surely an attractive option for cash strapped Lotus!

Where does this leave Hulk, amongst the options are;

1) Lotus (if any)

2) Force India

3) Williams (unlikely)

4) Sauber (unlikely)

5) Mclaren (unlikely)

I'm afraid he running out of options....

Lotus might have sold him a dummy here...


Having said that Kimi made the right decision, didn't buy what Lotus said and made his move...glad for him!


I really hope this isn't the case. Is Lotus is serious about taking the next step and being a genuine championship contender then Maldonado is not the way to go.


Maldonado to Lotus & Chilton to Force India are both entirely undeserved moves if they happen.

Of Bianchi and Chilton at Marussia, how is it possible that Chilton is the one Force India are in talks with? Crazy. After failing to give Bianchi a drive for this season you would think they'd want to correct that mistake, not hammer it home by signing a guy who hasn't been able to touch Bianchi all year.

What's that you say? Chilton's Dad is rich? Oh, that explains that then.....


+a billion. It annoys me like hell that this is where FI are going. I trusted them!! Not just of the two Marussia drivers, but of all the pay drivers there are, Chilton is by no means the best.


I really hope Maldonado gets the Lotus drive, his win last year was very impressive under constant pressure from Alonso.

Talent,a proven race winner plus $$$$ is a hard combination to argue against.


If Force India are desperate enough for cash that they would look at Bacs Chilton, how could they afford to pay for Hulkenberg?


Easy, Bacs would be funding Hulkenberg's salary so Force India have no driver salary to pay. This way they get a top driver in Hulkenberg and Chilton can be the number 2.


Chilton has a good record of bringing the car home, hasn't he? Ok, that's arguably easy to do when you start out of everyone's way at the back, but I'd still argue he deserves some credit for not binning it into the barriers too many times.

Despite all his criticism I can understand why a driver who brings the car home is of value to a team like Force India. A solid midfield team banks more points from a tortoise than a hare.


You or I could get an F1 car home every week a mile off the pace with the amount of racing experience Chilton has so it's hardly worthy of credit.


I can't help but agree. Bianci destroyed him early on.. But he's been competitive these last few races..just saying


Chilton to Force India?? He has been awful this season qualifying 1 second behind Bianchi. It's a shame that Razia and Valsecchi, 2 previous GP2 champions cant get a drive but he does


Please, for the sake of sport, don't give this guy a Lotus seat

Not only it would be injust to Hulkeberg, as it would set the ugly precedent where a poor driver gets a good car, just for the sake of money

Also, this guy doesn't even deserve a Marussia car, he's reckless, dangerous and a poor, poor sportsman

People talked about how dangerous Grosjean is/was some time ago, but I think Maldonado is a much worse case scenario

I say this, because most of Grosjean's incidents were for him being rookie and clumsy, whereas Maldonado incidents happened with a cold heart calculation, not caring the slightest bit for other's safety

There are 2 drivers who should see F1 exit door, Maldonado and Massa, but I'll take 2 Massa's to 1 Maldonado any day!!!


Well put! Grosjean was, as you said, clumsy, but Maldonado is careless.

I have to disagree with what you said about Massa, as I think he's still got some of the One formula inside him 😉


Maldonado was GP2 champion and won the award in Spain with Alonso from behind, he deserves that seat


I understand your sympathy for Massa, I also had it for some time, due to his accident, but enough is enough

I believe a true racer, or at least a true professional, has to deliver everytime, not only when his seat is in danger, and that's what's been happening with Massa repeatedly in the last few years towards the end of a season

I also don't like much his way of defending a position, where he inevitably forces a driver off track, otherwise creates a crash.

He's had a great car for too long, and now his whining and pressure on Bernie to get him a seat for 2014 because he's Brazilian

( http://www.planetf1.com/driver/18227/9001234/Massa-fears-for-Brazil-s-place-in-F1 )

Why should one get a seat on count of his nationality? Is it because of Senna? Fangio was Argentine, and I don't see Argentines on the grid.

Anyway, having said that, I would much rather see Massa in 2014, in a Marussia or Caterham, than Maldonado anywhere else


Grosjean is no rookie, [mod]


2012 was his first full season on F1, if that's not being a rookie, I don't know what is!!!


Maldonado to Lotus... It's almost disturbing.

Irrespective of the fact that Hulkenburg either stays where he is or goes back to Force India, the fact that Pastor Maldonado gets into a Lotus seat is truly bizarre, how do his performances since he debuted 3 years ago remotely justify this, apart the race win last season?

Think about it Lotus would replace Kimi Raikkonen with Pastor Maldonado !!!!! At a time when drivers like Hulkenburg and Massa are available.

I give up.


Since the creation of the F1 World Championship

only 104 drivers have won a GP, one of them is Pastore Maldonado...


I think you should give up! indeed what has Maldonado done to deserve a decent drive, ahhh yes at least you mention it, WIN A RACE!


Wonder why Lotus can't get their financial act together given their recent success. There must be a deeper rooted problem.

Maybe it's just as well that the Hulk won't get a seat there. At least Sauber and FI know how good he is and are willing to take him on merit. Always a bridesmaid- never a bride.


As for talk of Max Chilton getting a drive at Force India, James Allen do you really expect us to respond...


You just did!


I am not often really disappointed with anything in F1 but this is one of those rare times.

It just seems unreal that Hulk just mises out year after year. I suppose it is made all the worse because each new team he moves to under performs when he gets there and the team he just left makes improvements.

On the plus side we can all see how great he is.

As Charlie Brown would say "Ugh....."


Good news Martin, The Hulk is still available!!! Stop dithering and fix that #2 hole in your driver line-up!


Hmmm does Chilton really deserve a Force India seat? He's been out-qualified 14 -2, and out raced 11 - 2 by Bianci.


Don't forget the two he's out raced Bianchi have been DNF and one of the qualifying Bianchi was pretty much a non-starter at Monaco. He had been annihilated by Bianchi. Chilton is a nice guy, but has been thoroughly trounced.


I know Maldonado has significant financial backing but considering Lotus in theory could still finish 2nd and be the 2nd best team this season, a pay driver shouldn't be necessary for them.

Yes this years Williams is not a good car, but a driver can only properly be measured against his team mate as they have the same cars. In order for Maldonado to show his ability he needed to comprehensibly out perform his (albeit rating highly) rookie team mate but he has not been able to do this, they have been quite similar in qualifying and race results. Where as Hulkenberg has comprehensibly outperformed his team mate all season.

Hulkenberg seems like hes genuinely has the potential to be one of the top drivers in f1, I'm not sure what he needs to do in order for a top team to give him a chance.

Any idea James on what the options could be for Hulkenberg now? Any other team options for 2014 or could he possibly take a year out with a view to joining a team for 2015, potentially Ferrari if Alonso joins Mclaren?

Also wont the PDVSA sponsorship conflict with total?


If your debt is massive it doesn't matter how much you win this year- does it ?


I'll tell you what Hulkenberg needs to do . More of same in terms of his driving. He will reap the rewards eventually.


Similar?. Maldo has outraced Bottas most of the time.

And the car in it's current horrible form, fits Bottas driving.


It would be tragic if Hulk was shuffled out due to a number of pay drivers getting the best available seats.

I've always thought the best scenario for him is at McLaren. If Sergio's backers don't come through with McLaren-caliber funding, they should hire Nico and let Sergio go swim with the fishes.

Bernie? Get involved and make sure the Hulk has an interesting seat to spice up the show and make sure F1 does not take on a brand of "pay drivers".


So where does that leave Hulkenberg ? Does he have enough funding to stay at Sauber ? It would be an absolute travesty to see him without a drive next year.

Valentino from montreal

Is'nt his manager , or was Willi Weber ?

If so , Schumacher wouldn't have problem funding his German compatriot ...


Oh yeah then we would have MS offering driving instructions maybe- f/k him and his money !.


It will be a sad momment if this happens. Can't believe that Maldonado gets to get out of his current contract in favor of a better drive, like he's a celebrated world champion, and Hulk who has impressed time and time again, gets to pick whatever is left, or maybe isn't in the grid next year, and I'm not even a fan of his...


I thought Pastor is also talking to Sauber.

So he could end up there as Sauber also needs funding. So Hulk can still be with Lotus next year if he can wait for Lotus to close the deal with Quantum which according to Boullier will be soon.


I doubt the business with Quantum no longer possible,


PDVSA is a petrol company. Total who sponsors Lotus and, as far as I remember, sponsors Grosjean a bit as well is also a petrol company.

Are they going to have two competitors sponsoring the same team? Or could Grosjean lose his seat if Maldonado comes in?


Yes, PDVSA and Total are both oil companies, and competitors, but they don't operate in the same consumer markets, so I don't see a problem with them both sponsoring the same team. Besides, PDVSA is a state-owned company from Venezuela, and their motives for sponsoring F1 can hardly be described as commercial (the rear of the car even reads "Venezuela", not PDVSA). As long as he doesn't fall out of favour with the regime, wherever Maldonado goes, they will follow.


no! They will probably keep Grosjean but end the Total deal to allow the other oil company to come in.


can't believe anyone would not want hulk because of his weight.

i'm sure I heard max say he wanted to stay at marussia, force indy taking him would be quite a shock.


It underscores how fragile F1 team's finances are at the moment, when a top team is (what seems on paper) having to make driver choices on the strength of their incoming budget. It's always been like that, but not so evident from recent memory with a 'top' team. It's a worry when drivers of the Hulk's calibre might miss out to Maldo's bags of cash.


Yup, bags of cash and not much talent. A crying shame if Nico doesn't get the seat at Lotus.


Lotus will go down slowly but surely with two less-experienced drivers who think after one win and a few good results that they are already up there with the big guns.Reality will hit them hard. Shame, I liked what they achieved with Kimi, but after the Ferrari-Kimi partnering they started to prefer Romain against Kimi openly. It was a mistake.


They were right! Grosjean, Hulkenberg, Maldonado are the future of F1, Kimi and Alonso are now rolling on the Schumi's road!


That's hilarious because Schumis road was World championships at the same age as Alonso, Kimi.

You know what I think your right - even though you don't realise it !

In a million years Grosjean, Maldonado won't be half the drivers Alonso and Raikkonen are- Hulkenberg will come close because he's at least got some intelligence.


Put me in the disappointed camp as regards Maldonado to Lotus. If they maintain a front of the grid position next year, Maldonado is going to return to his old hothead tricks again.

Chilton to FI? Huh? All I see with Chilton is an adequate young driver who's improved a bit over the year - nothing more. How is he deserving of a better drive? He brings money?


Why don't lotus change their name to a title sponsor who will pay them insted of Group Lotus who pay nothing. Come on Genin Group surely you can get a great sponsor in and take on the Hulk rather than Maldonado just because he gives you some money. Think they really messed up when they decided to fight Tony Fernandes in the courts


One consolation for Di Resta is that it looks like he's on course to beat his (well-respected) team mate for the first time in his career.

Too little too late?


His "well respected" team mate was out of the sport last year and he's respected because of his competitiveness coming back !. But for bad luck he may even be beating Paul even now.


I think Paul Di Resta has had more than his own fair share of bad luck.

Team qualy mistakes, Pastor ramming him and the biggie, Pirelli changing tyres mid season.

I think only Webber has had worse luck than Di Resta this season and even then, I think Paul has the right to complain more than most. If it had been Hulk taking 4th in Bahrain everyone would have been in raptures.


Surely if the main problem with The Hulk getting a drive is his lack of sponsership, then why isn't he hunting down some German sponsors to offer teams?

As money is short in most of the F1 field, getting your way without financial backing isn't the way to conduct business.


So Lotus is choosing Maldonado over Hulkenberg because their deal with Quantum didn't go trough? Poor Hulkenberg, will he ever get a top drive?


Then Brawn should not join Lotus.


Maldonado has speed, he has shown quite a few times over last season and this season. Yes he has had quite a few crazy crashes, so has Grosjean and Grosjean is a good example of how a driver can clean up their racecraft. It's a massive disappointment that it's Hulkenberg who will miss out but I rate Maldonado quite highly.


Kimi did Lotus no favours when he publicised they had a problem paying him, NOT the disclosure you want when negotiating with a new investor!! No wonder some of the team are fed up (livid?) with him. It's absolutely no surprise that Quantum is taking their time. But how about Pasta and Hulk at Lotus paid for by PVDSA and RoGro to Mclaren? Romain is actually the form man of the moment and he's a similar build to Jension...you read it here first. (:-)


Raikkonen did absolutely nothing wrong. It was well known last year right down to season end that he wasn't paid. It is no surprise to anyone that he was not paid again because Lotus pay at season end when they get their prize money. He did not seem overly concerned by it when he was asked saying that it's "not ideal but Im sure at some point it would be sorted.. Like last year .." His concern was mostly the teams funding for the new car, and technical assurances,To build and develop the new car with limited funding !

That's where him not being paid last year and not been paid this year differed ! and why he rightly signed elsewhere. Lotus had their problems when Allison left earlier and it's not lost on me that since then Boullier has been "negotiating"with Infinity partners. We've seen drivers (Kimi includes) loose F1 drives for waiting too long to negotiate a drive..yet people are still dumb enough to criticise.

Fans/ critics alike can all of a sudden be judgemental about this situation when the truth be told they would scream blue murder if their next pay cheque was not paid- and that's something that was not he deal breaker for Raikkonen ( last year was evidence of this) how very Hypocritical !

Lotus s popularity has boomed upon the return of the iceman and they have enjoyed unrivalled attention. Lotus inability to give Kimi the assurances that any good driver would want ahead of a tough new formula is the only thing that highlighted the problems they have , that and the fact - they had already lost their lead technical director.

There have been many eg this year alone which showed me Lotus/ Boullier were desperate to build Romain up- often at the expense of they lead driver - that told me they have the wrong strategic mentality . The lost opportunities and hurt feelings bourne out of Kimis impending departure

and the blatant and rather stupid prejudice of Kimi in India make the decision for Kimi to leave Lotus all the more assured.

As for Grosjean going anywhere - you have to be pretty simple to miss the point that Eric Boullier and Lotus have been building him up to lead the team now that Kimi is leaving.. Well guess what - good luck with that and Maldonado or Hulkenburg.. They have bigger problems than drivers to sort out


Elite, lots of "well known" insight in your response that those of us who are "dumb" and "simple" did not have access to, however my point remains that the popular millionaire Kimi had no need to air the payment issue in the blunt way he did. I totally get why he signed for Ferrari, why wouldn't he? I agree with you totally that Lotus have bigger problems than drivers right now....your surname isn't Robertson is it?


So popular millionaire means you don't get paid- is that right ?

When the press asks you - "we know Lotus are failing to pay suppliers and staff. Have you been paid Kimi"- and he says- " it's not ideal and I'm sure it will be sorted at some point..last year it was a similar thing but in the end was ok"- isn't the thing that gives anyone nightmares is it"



Relations have been very difficult since he decided to leave the team. Hence him almost not coming to Abu Dhabi this weekend


Kimi was almost a no show? WOW! That is a situation way out of control. Poor state of affairs...


Chilton is moving up? Sorry to hear that. He has shown absolutely nothing.

James, you mentioned Bottas is likely to stay. What's the general feeling on his season? Seems like expectations were a lot higher.


He's outpaced Maldonado a few times, some strong showings, learned a lot. He's done pretty well, plus he's Toto Wolff's boy and Toto still has a lot of influence at Williams


I believe these things will happen.

Massa to Williams(may be signing for 5 years)

Maldonado to Lotus &

Hulkenberg to Force India.


Seriously, what's going on with that deal Lotus has been talking about since... was it June?


Yes, announced before Silverstone!


Great, so it is 5 months in the making... or is it actually a fading prospect that some people are desperately clinging on to?

I hope that the Enstone team isn't in for some bad times ahead, but it's not looking good, is it?


So the Hulk's weight is still a problem due to the increased weight of the new power-trains next year. There's a simple solution - raise the weight limit by using this simple formula:

2014 Chassis + 2014 Tyres + 2014 Power-Train + Montoya = Total Minimum Weight.

Sorted 🙂



A few friendly tips for Hulkenberg:

1 - Consider all the seats that are still available.

2 - Factor in the chances of success in each.

3 - Figure out which is the best one for you.

4 - Choose a different one, 'cause while you're unquestionably a good driver your track record in the seat choosing department is not so good.


An idea to sort the pay drivers out would be that the teams have a set amount of money that need filling by the drivers sponsors. The team should then have an open weekend and give all the drivers a chance and who is fastest gets the seat. But the entrance fee is split between all the drivers sponsors and the sponsors pay even if their driver doesn't get the drive. So drivers with less budget get a chance and all the sponsors get on the team.


I guess F1 did start off as a hobby for wealthy gentleman drivers - so its evolving back to its roots.

It's not too bad - the Top 4 teams (assuming McLaren catch back up) vie for the championships; while wealthy tycoons who can afford F1 teams as their hobbies, and pay drivers make up the rest of the grid.


Good grief, GREAT SCOT !!!

For James:

a quote from JAonF1 Connect:

"Murray Walker recalls how the ever-popular Scot Johnny Herbert prevailed in a race that had six leaders."





I might be wrong but Boullier said he was interested in Hulk and his weight was not a problem, this might mean Nico turned down the Lotus drive for something better... Mclaren?


Could be!!

YES.. Perez can go to Ferrari as a test driver and put Hulk in the McLaren!! 😀


I read below on another site today. I thought you got the panalty for the current GP. For example, I use the 9th engine for this weekend's GP, I get pushed back on the grid 10 spots before start. Not at next GP in US. Clearly, everyone should use a 9th engine in Brazil as panalty doesn't carry over season to season. A bit of a strange rule, allowing richer teams to take a 9th engine without worries, while midfielders won't buy an engine for 1 GP.


If a driver is forced to use more than their eight-unit limit, a 10-place grid penalty will be issued by the governing body for the next event, unless this occurs in the final race.


What would F1 be without loopholes? 😉


Yep, my rule of thumb now is check JA for the latest news and F1.com for checking stuff like rules and regulations as well as the results archives.


Maybe I jumped the gun here. Perhaps if you go for 9th in final race they do give you the penalty in the final race?


"Each driver may use no more than eight engines during a championship season. Should a driver use more than eight engines, he will drop 10 places on the starting grid of the event at which an additional unit is to be used."

So they do get the penalty at the same race regardless.

Jumped the gun and took a wrong turn 😉


I think Hulk made a stupid move going to Sauber this year. He is out of there next year and his only option now is at Force India. The team that gave him his first drive in F1, is the team that he back stabbed to go to Sauber.

Karma is a *&^ch - you better believe it.

He's certainly better than Sutil and DiResta - and i think Sutil and Hulk will be a decent combo for Force India.


Why would Pastor want to bring $30m to a broke team just so they can tell him to "get out of the F*@king way"? With the changes in regulations, Mercedes allegedly having a leg on the competition, plus Symonds on board, isn't he better off staying put? Or is Todt Jr trying to have the cake and eat it too?


The same Kimi that has been talking to the team anyway he wants cant take as good as he gives?

Lachlan Mackinnon

James - your call on Hulkenberg.....Force India seems his only option with Sauber needing money??? I'd be surprised to see DiResta there next year.


Force India need do what Vijay is so proud of and sign up by far their best option with Di Resta and Hulkenberg.

Then they just need a car roughly equal to the Sauber, Lotus, Torro Rosso, Williams for PdR and Hulk to do the rest and give them a thumping and a lesson in pay drivers over good drivers.

Heck if Force India produce a car slightly better than this and as long as Pirelli don't alter the tyres mid-season then PdR and Hulk could take it to McLaren and Ferrari next year.

If you take PdRs first half of 2013 in the not bad Force India, prior to the tyre change, and take Hulks second half 2013 in the fairly good much improved Sauber, you have the perfect upcoming driver performances.

Two young drivers with good experience that will push each other onwards as they did before - it's a no brainer for Vijay. He's lucky the muppets in the other teams have signed guys like Perez, Guitierrez and Maldonado instead of snapping up PdR and Hulk when they should.


"As long as Pirelli don’t alter the tyres mid-season"

Don't get your hopes up, chances are they will.

+1 for the rest.


Thats going to be a big mistake getting Maldonado , instead Massa or Hulk! Hope those two get a seat and beat up those paying drivers on the grid! BTW, that radio between Kimi and Permane... that yell was just unnecessary, totally agree with Kimi, not going to Abu Dhabi today!


Honestly i really feel sorry for the smaller teams. I can understand why they go for a driver with a fat wallet. its kind of been stuck between a rock and a hard place. I know its not F1 but maybe they will go down the MOTOGP route and have sattelite teams in the future becuase the smaller teams are just going to come and go. I surely hope Williams do not fall into that bracket. Then thy could potentiall employ a driver on merrit and not how fat your wallet is.

Also, thanks James for an awesome website


How many of Nico's organs can we harvest to get his weight down? How much does he weigh? 70kg? Can't be that far of Romain's weigh?


It is more a case of his wallet not being heavier than him not being lighter.


If they remove the family jewels he will be the same weight and exactly the same as Grosjean.


Which particular organs were you interested in?


How much money does PDVSA pour into Williams at the moment?

Lotus have got to way up whether the money can justify the points lost. I rate the Hulk as the second best driver in F1 at the moment. Him along with a performing RoGro would certainly go some way to filling the points gap that Kimi will leave. surely!?

Sad state the F1 finds itself in.


30milllion reasons to not weigh up


Well.. I think if Maldonado buys the seat at Lotus and Chilton buys the seat at Force India that might be the end of F1 viewing from me. I know F1 is more about business than sport now, but it sucks that talent no longer means the best drivers sit in the best seats.

The whole sport suffers. Maldonado has driven 1 good race which showed promise, but 30 others that have really shown him to be a hack. Truly sad state of affairs if this goes through. I don't think Chilton has done enough to even warrant keeping his Marussia seat let alone taking an opportunity to compete away from the Hulk or Di Resta.



"It sucks that talent no longer means the best drivers sit in the best seats"

Pay drivers have always been a part of F1, but probably more so during the upcoming expensive engine change.

Still, look at what we have in the top teams:

Vettel and Ricciardo at RBR.

Alonso and Räikkönen at Ferrari.

Hamilton and Rosberg at Mercedes.

Still looks okay to me and as for the midfield teams it could be a lot worse.

In the long view maybe it's better for the teams that are struggling a little like Lotus and Williams to have one or two pay drivers rather than fold altogether.


Seeing the way Lotus are handling the Raikkonen situation and also the Heidfeld issue previously, why would any half-decent driver want to be assosciated with such a team. It's clear that quite a few member's of the Lotus hierarchy like to carry a grudge. The way their top driver and engineers are jumping ship and the way sponsors are refusing to come on board, it's clear that the team are on the slippery slope to being the backmarker's of the grid. Hope Hulkenberg stays at Sauber or goes back to Force India. Wouldn't want a talent like him to be circulating as a backmarker.


Maldonado to Lotus...and so the downward spiral starts again.

Pity seeing money talking louder than talent these days - unless you're a superstar "out of the box" in the lines of Hamilton, Vettel...

As for Kimi's profane instruction to get out of the way...here's a conspiracy theory for you...we have same situation where Grosjean leads Massa with Kimi ahead of both...imagine if Kimi helped his new employers for next year by "getting in the way" so that Massa can get past both...a 2 finger salute to Lotus on track!

He's a racer, and we know he won't do that...as he wants to score points himeslef and end top-3 and get some silverware (i'm sure having something nice to put your Ice in would be incentive enough LOL)


Great! Lotus can change their name again next year.. to Team Demolition Derby


With a crash repairer as title sponsor 😉


Ha ha!

Will be funny to see Grosjean and Maldonado run into each other through out the season.

Lotus might run out of money and spare parts half way through 2014!


We can imagine

Permane yelling "Pastor, get out of the ****ing way!"

Maldonado shouting back " I'll do one better" , then proceeding to take Grosjean out with him.


Gutted for Hulkenberg!! Maybe it is for the best. If Lotus went down next year.. the Hulk would have looked really stupid!


Fantastic. Lotus want Crash and Smash as team mates. Exciting time ahead.


James, any talk about James Calado possibly stepping into a seat next year?

With the practice sessions he's had with Force India I would've thought he'd be first in the queue for a drive if they decide to jettison Sutil or di Resta.

The Chilton talk doesn't add up (talent wise).


Yes, James told our 5 LIve F1 programme last night his chances of a race seat are 50-50

Sam Bird was more optimistic, as he challenges for the GP2 championship this weekend


F1 2014 - the only sport where the little guy

stands to thrive! Come on Massa!


It seems to me that Lotus have no choice but to take Pasta's money, they need to regain some leverage with Quantum who will be holding out for a better price.I agree hat Hulk and PDR will make a great FIndia team, surely Sutil has had his chances?


Would be gutted for Hulkenberg to have his seat pinched by Maldonaldo *again*


Hi james,

I just wondered, drivers who bring sponsorship how and by who pays them?


Niko Hulkenberg undoubtedly has a size problem and a weight problem: his sponsorship pool is too small, and his wallet not heavy enough.

The driver market has too many tipping points to make any predictions right now. Perhaps rumours of Chilton moving to Force India could create an opening for Hulkenberg there? Him and Sutil in the same team might not have worked, but him and Chilton might.

2014 will be a transitional season - while big budgets will always help, some teams could be surprisingly strong, and others surprisingly weak. For 2015, I expect another wave of driver movements, starting at the top, and filtering down through the ranks. The main target should be to get any seat for 2014, and then try to move to the right team for 2015.


It is hard to understand how a team still in the fight for the second spot in both championships, can not been seen as an attractive prospect for sponsors. I know winning is everything to many, but second best still carries some bragging rights no?

I suppose the departure of key people, does not help with how Lotus potential looks for 2014. Hope they won't fall out in comparison to Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes, too much or at all. I am no expert in this, but it does look a bit that way. Marc


If Maldonado goes to Lotus, if Hulkenberg doesn't get a decent seat, and especially if Chilton gets a drive anywhere, F1 cannot be taken seriously any longer.


Though i'd be greatly dissapointed in Hulk not getting the drive in Lotus or a competitive team, people seem to forget Maldonado delivered a win when Williams gave him a car capable of winning. So if he delivered in Lotus then no big harm. Hope Hulk lands on his feet somewhere though.


It's a great pity that driver selection is so influenced by associated sponsorship rather than actual talent. As usual, there will be a number of talented drivers without a seat next year.


Re Lotus: You have to wonder what kind of investor would allow a deal to slide a few more weeks at the expense of getting the best driviers. I wonder if this deal with Quantum will ever appear.


I was checking some numbers to try and put sense on the discussion of who should go with whom.I hope I did not make any mistake. This compares the points FOR THE WHOLE 2012 SEASON with 2013 up to and including India.

Sebastian +41

Alonso -71

Kimi -24

Lewis -21

Webber -31

Rosberg +51

Grosgean +06

Jenson -128

Hulkemberg -24

Perez -33

Pastor -44

Sutil +28

Ricciardo +19

I know there are 3 more races, but the general feeling is that MOST drivers are in a worst position than last year.Only,Sebastian, Nico R and Sutil seem to escape the tendency.Please comment . I am more confused now.


How sad for F1 that Hulkenberg who in all probability is as quick as Hamilton and quicker than Kimi or Alonso will be wasting another season in a midfield team that struggles to get into Q3. Maldonado is no better than Bottas at the end of the day.

Looks like 2014 will be another season with the same old faces fighting for the championship. Hulkenberg would have been a legitimate championship threat with a competitive car. Can't see Ferrari winning a championship with two drivers who struggle to qualify higher than the 3rd or 4th row. I guess it's down to Hamilton, but he seems inconsistent these days. He has off days, whereas Vettel has two off days in a bad season (2012) and zero off days in a good season (2013).


I won't be the first one to say this, but it's a shame, a historic one, for F1 that so many very-good drivers are left outside for lack of funding.


What I completely fail to understand is how anyone in the marketing departments of the majority of F1 teams have kept their job.

Why on earth is the driver having to bring sponsorship?



Very good point.

Perhaps instead of the drivers the marking people should have to bring their own sponsorship to a team to prove they can do it.

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