Hulkenberg to quit Sauber, move to Lotus (4th Update) UPDATE #4
(GMM) Eric Boullier on Tuesday confirmed reports Nico Hulkenberg is a candidate to drive for Lotus in 2014.
|Hulkenberg. Lotus bound?|
That is because the Enstone based team is facing up to the very real possibility lead driver Kimi Raikkonen will switch to Red Bull.
We reported earlier that Frenchman Boullier, the Lotus team boss, is scheduled to sit down with Finn Raikkonen's management this week.
In the meantime, German Hulkenberg is technically a free agent, because - while he will continue to race for Sauber in 2013 - the struggling Swiss team reportedly breached contract by failing to pay him in May and June.
"I am in contact with Nico," Boullier, who reportedly also mentioned Paul di Resta, is quoted on Tuesday by France's L'Equipe.
Still, Lotus has not given up on retaining Raikkonen -- and the inimitable Finn might not like the sound of comments made on Monday by Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko.
First, Raikkonen does not like his decisions rushed, and Lotus is prepared to wait for him.
But Marko said Red Bull wants to settle the name of Mark Webber's 2014 successor "in the summer".
"Budapest is the beginning of the summer break. Spa at the end. So it (the decision) will fall some time in August," he told Austrian television Servus TV.
Marko is also insisting Webber's successor make a long-term commitment -- something Raikkonen might also baulk at.
"It shouldn't be for only one year, but for the next three years," said the Austrian. "Continuity has distinguished us as a team."
Further, Raikkonen despises media and sponsor work, while rumors suggest he also likes to spend precious little time with his engineers.
Marko, though, wants Sebastian Vettel's next teammate to do plenty of "simulator work" whilst working "awfully hard" with the team's technical boffins.
"There are many criteria that must be filled," he added.
Presumably, Marko wants Raikkonen to truly want the Red Bull seat, rather than slip into the sort of top team-complacency that at Ferrari ended his first F1 career.
"We have plenty of choice," said Marko. "There is Kimi and there are many others -- almost everyone would want to be with us.
"We need two strong drivers, so you also can win the constructors' championship. The opposite is Ferrari, who put everything on Alonso and the drivers' championship.
"But we want both," added Marko.07/08/13 Asked on Sunday by Sky about the contract rumors, Hulkenberg did not deny his Sauber deal has been terminated.
“Unfortunately I can’t and I won’t talk about contractual details,”
“Clearly I need to take care of my future, Nothing is impossible or excluded.”
Hulkenberg said “I think it’s a difficult situation,”
“She [Monisha Kaltenborn] and the team management are trying to work on a solution. She’s assured me she’s working on that and there’s not much more I can say.”
07/08/13 (GMM) Peter Sauber has denied reports employees of his struggling Swiss team are going without pay.
It is reported that, because he has not been paid his contractual installments for May or June, Nico Hulkenberg has terminated his 2013 deal and is therefore free to switch to another team at any moment.
"Basically, I won't talk about contracts," Sauber told Swiss television Sportpanorama.
"But I am convinced that Nico will be with us in the second half of the season."
The Sonntagszeitung newspaper claims sponsor Oerlikon, and perhaps some other Sauber sponsors, has provided "emergency relief" to the tune of a mid-six figure to the Hinwil based team.
"It is very difficult at the moment," team founder Peter Sauber admitted.
"Our resources are very limited and the situation is uncomfortable and embarrassing," he added.
But Sauber, 69, vehemently denied that his staff are not being paid their wages.
"In 20 years in formula one, we have never not paid wages on time," he insisted.
However, Sauber admitted that some suppliers of the team are being asked to wait for their invoices to be paid.
"It is affecting not only the development of the car, but also the suppliers," he said.
"For the large part, we are being met with understanding, but it is very stressful for us and in many regards painful," said Sauber.
He said he has "never" laid off staff "for financial reasons", and does not intend to start now.
"Once you start doing that, you hurt the team so much," said Sauber.
But Sauber said his team needs new sponsors urgently, or preferably an investor.
"We are very confident in this regard," he revealed. "If it runs smoothly, we can give the all-clear by the end of the month."
He also said a 'plan B' is in place.
"It is a good plan," said Sauber, "but time is the big problem -- we're running out of it.
"Mainly because we might not be able to drive if suppliers begin to stop supplying us."
Asked if Sauber's 2013 season is assured, he admitted: "In principle, no.
"But I feel safe. Currently we are working day to day."
The last resort will be simply selling the team.
"If there is no other way out," said Sauber, "that is a possibility. But we are far from that.
"Closure is not an option. The fire inside me is kindled by situations like this. There is nothing else to do than fight."07/07/13 (GMM) Nico Hulkenberg on Sunday did not deny reports in Germany he has terminated his contract with Sauber.
Having already not denied the struggling Swiss team's failure to pay him since May, the reports on Sunday had said the 25-year-old will continue to drive for Sauber in 2013.
But the German and his manager Werner Heinz have reportedly terminated the deal for breach of contract, meaning Hulkenberg is now free to leave Sauber at any time.
Rumors at the Nurburgring suggested Heinz has already been in talks with Lotus, while Hulkenberg has also been linked with a future move to Ferrari.
Asked on Sunday about the contract rumors, Hulkenberg did not deny the Sauber deal has been terminated.
"Unfortunately I can't and I won't talk about contractual details," he told German broadcaster Sky.
But "Clearly I need to take care of my future," Hulkenberg admitted. "Nothing is impossible or excluded."07/07/13 According to AR1.com sources in Europe Nico Hulkenberg will quit the Sauber F1 team after today's race unless he gets paid by Sauber. According to the source, Hulkenberg has not been paid all year. We hear he may be headed to Lotus to replace Grosjean or Raikkonen, who is rumored going to Red Bull.