Formula 1

Maldonado approaches Lotus as Hulkenberg gives deadline

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Sponsorship deals could hamper any Williams departure (©GettyImages)
Sponsorship deals could hamper any Williams departure (©GettyImages).

A frustrated Pastor Maldonado has approached Lotus over the soon-to-be vacant seat alongside Romain Grosjean in 2014.

The Venezuelan does have a contract at Williams for 2014 and beyond but has lost patience with the team who are failing to provide a competitive car.

Indeed, since making his breakthrough win with Williams, at last year's Spanish Grand Prix, Maldonado's best result is 5th at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. This year the FW35 has been even worse with a solitary 10th place in Hungary the only points finish.

According to Auto Sport und Motor Maldonado has thrown his name into the pot as a replacement for the departing Kimi Raikkonen but the chances of a move could be thwarted by his backer PDVSA.

"The contract with Maldonado's South American sponsors is watertight," revealed correspondent Michael Schmidt, claiming Williams got the deal re-checked recently by a top lawyer in London.

That means the former GP2 champion is almost certainly going to be completing that current contract at Williams, worth in the region of €35m, until it expires after 2015.

Despite this Maldonado is quoted recently as saying: "This year I'm here. Next year I don't know where I'll be."

Meanwhile, the apparent frontrunner in the race to land Raikkonen's seat at Lotus, Nico Hulkenberg, has given the team until the end of the month to decide if they want his services in 2014.

The German is full of confidence after recent strong results including a superb fourth at the Korean Grand Prix last weekend, now though with options for next season running out, 'Hulk' has given Lotus a deadline to make a decision.

"I want to have some certainty about my future – and not in November," he said, when asked by Autosport about the timeframe for him to make a decision on 2014.

"It needs to be at the end of the month, for sure. There is obviously a certain cut off point.

"I have experienced falling over the back in 2010, and I am not going to risk doing that again."

The big factor in Lotus' decision is money, Hulkenberg is one of a handful of drivers without major sponsorship backing and with Lotus themselves facing an uncertain financial future, they are taking their time over deciding who should replace Raikkonen.

Should Hulkenberg switch to Lotus it would be his fourth different team in five years, but the 24-year-old in unconcerned that could question his loyalty to a team.

"It is not a worry," he said. "It is maybe not ideal but there is a positive side as well because you can take all the good things forward.

"Obviously in terms of consistency and settling in somewhere it is not the best, but movements happen for a reason and it is what it is, so there is no point questioning it for me."

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