With the top three teams having confirmed their 2014 line-ups, Lotus is the only front running team left with a vacant seat. Boullier was clear to confirm that Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg are two leading contenders for the drive but also said that he is looking for someone to fill the seat on merit, not because of the cash that they will bring.
Speaking in an interview with the official Formula 1 website, Boullier was asked to weigh up the pros and cons of both Massa and Hulkenberg. He replied: “Both are very fast. Felipe is more at the end of his career than at the beginning. Massa was nearly world champion – he was champion for half a lap! He has a lot of experience, which is very valuable. Hulkenberg is highly rated in the paddock. So the question is do we want to be conservative and work with an experienced driver – especially with the new engine and power train next year – or do we gamble on a youngster?”
But are Lotus gamblers? “We are. But in both cases it would be a gamble.”
The Frenchman also admitted that the team is in no rush to decide on their 2014 driver line-up: “We are in no hurry. We are now assessing all the possibilities and hold each option against our strategy. We can afford to buy some time, as we have the most-wanted free seat.”
But the driver that they do eventually choose will be picked on merit, not on how much sponsorship he can bring to the team – despite recent speculation that Lotus is struggling financially. Boullier said: “It would have zero effect on our decision. I want to choose the driver on merit and not on money.”
Lotus started the year on a high but have been unable to replicate their early form in the second half of the season. Boullier is hoping that the team can regain their earlier pace and believes that the next group of circuits that the sport will visit will suit their car: “True, Spa and Monza, Silverstone and Canada were not good races for us, but that is because of the layout of the tracks. As I said before, low downforce is not our thing. But from now on we should be in good shape again as the tracks until the final race in Brazil should suit us.”
The Enstone based squad currently occupy fourth in the constructor’s standings with 206 points, 171 points behind run-away leaders Red Bull Racing and 61 points behind nearest rivals Mercedes.