Media reports have emerged suggesting that German Nico Hulkenberg is in the running not only for a seat at Lotus, but is also a contender for McLaren should an opening arise at the Woking based squad in 2014.
That is the claim of the German magazine Sport Bild, who said that even a return to Force India has not been ruled out.
Hulkenberg, 26, admitted in Singapore last weekend that moving from Force India to Sauber last winter might have been a mistake.
“Well, regret is a big word,” he told the British broadcaster Sky, “but if you move teams you want to progress, you want to move forward.”
Hulkenberg came close to a deal with Ferrari for 2014, until the Italian team secured Kimi Raikkonen’s high-profile return.
Sport Bild said that Lotus is now the strongest option for Hulkenberg, amid rumours that a looming sponsor deal between Arab investors and the Enstone based team has ruled Felipe Massa out of the equation.
The report said thatwhile Hulkenberg is on the cusp of becoming Raikkonen’s successor, the door at McLaren might be slightly ajar.
Sport Bild also said that there are rumours about Sergio Perez’s Mexican backer Telmex being behind in its payments to the Woking based team.
That Hulkenberg is waiting for McLaren before signing a Lotus contract would tie in with the very latest rumours – that Lotus is now considering the sponsor millions which Brazilian GP2 driver Felipe Nasr could bring.
Hulkenberg’s manager Werner Heinz said: “Nothing is signed, but we are in a good position.”
Separately, it is believed that Raikkonen’s switch to Ferrari has sealed Lotus’ intention to keep Romain Grosjean on board for another season.
The team’s trackside boss Alan Permane thinks that the Frenchman is ready to step into a leading role.
“Obviously it depends who he has as his teammate, a strong character or who [it may be],” he said. “But I don’t see why not.
“Now’s his chance – and he looks to be taking it, which is really good to see.” (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.