The future of Lotus and potentially Nico Hulkenberg are looking a bit brighter as it emerges the deal with Quantum Racing is set to be officially confirmed early this week.
The timing could also be perfect for Lotus as it’s lead driver Kimi Raikkonen threatens to boycott the final two races over unpaid wages.
“We have tried to be diplomatic,” Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson told Turun Sanomat newspaper in Abu Dhabi, “but it’s already November.
“The time for talking is over and now we need action,” he insisted.
The Finn’s weekend in Abu Dhabi did not improve his mood as he was moved to the back of the grid, after his car failed a deflector test after qualifying, then he retired on the first lap for the first time since 2006 after hitting Giedo van der Garde exiting turn one.
Raikkonen was seen leaving the circuit even before the sun had set in Abu Dhabi’s twilight race.
After the incident some even suggested the 33-year-old had crashed on purpose leading to his response for Red Bull’s Helmut Marko: “We don’t have to worry about that (drivers crashing on purpose), because we pay our drivers.” he said mischievously.
Initially after Kimi’s departure his manager Robertson told Der Spiegel: “I hope Kimi will be driving in Austin, but first the conditions have to be right.”
However the boss at Quantum, Mansoor Ijaz, claimed talks with Robertson on Saturday had eased the tension.
“I’ve apologised to Steve, we’ve apologised to Kimi,” he said.
Indeed Lotus boss Eric Boullier confirmed the issue of Raikkonen’s unpaid salary has been “settled”.
The news is also good for Nico Hulkenberg as he is Quantum and Lotus’ preferred replacement for the departing Raikkonen.
Boullier has said a contract with Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado was “ready” and would be offered if the Quantum deal collapsed.
But Quantum’s Ijaz confirmed the 26-year-old German is their number 1 choice.
“I know Nico is excited about doing this and I think it’s a matter of a very short period before all that will be finalised,” he said.
“We’re going to clear off the (team’s) debt, and then we’re going to bring very high quality sponsors which you’ll see very soon.
“They (Lotus) are going to pay a lot of bills this week, let’s put it that way. We’ve asked them to make sure things get paid as quickly as possible,” he added.
Boullier hinted that all will become clear on Tuesday. “Hopefully,” the Frenchman smiled.
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