Reports suggest Venezuelan F1 driver Pastor Maldonado is to beat Nico Hulkenberg to the second seat at Lotus for 2014 .
Team boss Eric Boullier has said the 26-year-old German is his preferred choice to replace Kimi Raikkonen, however with Hulkenberg unsponsored and Lotus struggling financially it appears Maldonado and his millions have won the battle.
“Some say the deal is now done,” said Auto Sport und Motor correspondent Michael Schmidt.
Because Hulkenberg is one of only a handful of drivers on the F1 grid without a major sponsor it is having major ramifications on his future despite being tipped by many as a future world champion, the move to Lotus was reliant on a deal between the Enstone team and Quantum Racing however it now seems that investment will not happen.
Earlier this month former team owner now BBC pundit Eddie Jordan said he was “certain” Hulkenberg would return to one of his former team’s Force India, however boss Vijay Mallya, who run’s a policy of picking drivers on talent rather than money, threw cold water on the idea.
Mallya described Hulkenberg as the “only driver” who “expressed the desire to leave” Force India after just a single season.
“Other than that all the other drivers have always been very happy to stay,” he told F1′s official website.
The Indian entrepreneur also said he would wait to announce his 2014 line-up until December.
As for Maldonado his big money backers PDVSA are currently in talks to break their current contract with Williams to ensure the Venezuelan can make the move up the grid to Lotus.
Should that happen it would open the door for Felipe Massa to stay with his race engineer Rob Smedley and make the move to Williams along with his new found sponsorship from
Brazilian oil firm Petrobras.
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