Lotus now has to “start a new story” without Kimi Raikkonen, says team boss Eric Boullier, as he insisted there was a long list of potential replacements.
Ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Boullier was adamant that he did not regard losing Raikkonen to Ferrari as a blow.
“It is paddock life,” he said. “I am happy that two years ago we gambled on Kimi, and it was a nice honeymoon story for two years. Now he is moving up to Ferrari. That is life.
“The combination of Lotus F1 and Kimi worked well in terms of popularity and also sporting-wise, on track. It is in some ways disappointing but it is not a blow. Let’s turn the page and start a new story.”
Nico Hulkenberg heads the list of contenders for the vacant Lotus seat, but Boullier said the shortlist was “quite long, actually. With some funny names… surprising teams.”
He added: “It is true that the people you can see, [Felipe] Massa and Hulkenberg, are on the market, so it is true that we talk to them. But the list is much, much longer.”
Although Lotus is still shoring up its financial future, aiming to close a deal with investor Infinity Racing and increase engine supplier Renault’s support, Boullier denied the team needed Raikkonen’s replacement to bring funding.
“It is important if he comes without sponsorship,” he said. “I am doing racing to win; not to make money. This is my wish as a team principal, but the right strategy for an F1 team is you want to choose your drivers or merit, because he fits your strategy or sports model, not because of sponsorship.”