Lotus boss Eric Boullier has admitted talks are taking place with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado for the vacant seat in 2014, as motorsport.com reports.
At the same time, however, the Frenchman reiterated that German Nico Hulkenberg remains his preferred replacement for the departing Kimi Raikkonen.
"I would love to (sign him)," Frenchman Boullier told F1's official website.
"This is the recommendation that I gave to my board."
The major factor in the decision is money, Lotus have been struggling financially in recent years despite being competitive at the front.
Earlier this year a consortium now known as Quantum Racing had reportedly signed an investment deal with the Enstone based team, but now in late October the deal is yet to be finalised and with Nico Hulkenberg setting a deadline of the end of the month for an answer, Lotus are in a race against time.
"We already dragged this out for many months, but we cannot drag it out forever," said Boullier. "We have a deadline -- and I hope they will not miss it."
If Quantum do miss the deadline it is likely Hulkenberg will miss out and Maldonado with his millions in sponsorship will sweep in.
Speaking to Britain's Sky Sports Boullier admitted he was in contact with Maldonado despite a contract between his sponsor PDVSA and Williams in place until 2015.
"We had discussions with him, yes, it's true," he said. "They are still going on."
Another man in the frame is Brazilian Felipe Massa.
In recent days the soon-to-be ex-Ferrari driver has been strongly linked with a move to Williams should Maldonado leave, however, he also remains on the list at Lotus.
However, asked who he would prefer as team-mate in 2014, Romain Grosjean said Hulkenberg would be his choice.
"But," Grosjean told Die Welt newspaper, "Pastor Maldonado and Felipe Massa would also be great teammates."
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