Lotus could buy themselves some time by securing second in the constructors’ championship this season. How? Well, the millions in prize money offered to the top-10 in that championship is often the difference between success and failure in next year’s campaign. That stuff is obvious, though. Lotus, however, could solve their driver problem (yes you can call it a problem at this point), by securing the “best-of-the-rest” spot in the standings.
Should the team finish where they are now (4th), Lotus would be in exactly the same financial position they find themselves in at the moment. And it isn’t all too comfortable a position. The Enstone-based team’s financial woes have been the most publicized aspect of the 2013 championship besides the silly season and “Testgate” from early this summer. That says a lot about the importance about financial security in Formula One. Of the top teams, Lotus is the only one without a car manufacturer or global mega-company funding the team’s budget. In fact, Lotus is very small in terms of what it has to spend compared to its direct rivals. Just look at how they have done compared to Mclaren this year and you see just how well Lotus has spent and divvied up its funds this season. The late introduction of its long-wheelbase chassis also attests to their financial savvy.
But Lotus is far from financially secure. Their financial needs have been covered every which-way by the media this season, particularly the struggle to secure a deal with Quantum Motorsports (formerly Infinity Racing). The deal is said to provide funding for a major step up in competitiveness for Lotus, a five-year plan the team has been preparing to implement for years now.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride, though. Time after time, we have heard Eric Boullier promise the deal is days from completion, followed by a frustratingly vague statement about how the “details” still need to be sorted out once those promised days have passed. A never-ending cycle, it seems.
It would certainly seem that way for Nico Hulkenberg who has, inarguably, shined the brightest in the second half of the season. Behind Vettel, you wouldn’t be blamed for saying he has been the most impressive driver from the whole field since the summer break. His connections to the vacant seat at Lotus were almost made subconsciously by the public once news broke that Kimi Raikkonen would be leaving for Ferrari. It seemed obvious he would be the best candidate for the seat.
The trouble Lotus have been having with Quantum means that second in the championship could make or break Nico’s future with the team; a future everyone says could (and very well should) begin in 2014.
Should the deal not come through by the time the season comes to a close, or even by the time the month is out, then second in the championship could be the difference between Lotus taking on Hulkenberg, or settling with Pastor Maldonado and his millions of oil dollars. No disrespect to the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix winner, but consensus in the paddock, on the internet, and basically everywhere Formula One is discussed, is that Nico is the best young driver out there for quite some time. Perhaps since a certain other German came along in 2007…
Bragging rights are meaningless unless you have the goods to back it up the following season. Obtaining second in the championship is just what Lotus needs (I mean REALLY needs) to cover the immense costs of 2014, and it would allow for the team to take on Hulkenberg should their deal with Quantum take longer than expected. With the clock ticking, that is looking like a real possibility.
For the sake of Lotus and Nico Hulkenberg, let’s hope Romain can keep that podium streak going.