Nico Hulkenberg has been told that weight will not be a hindrance in his bid to secure a Formula 1 race seat at Lotus next season.
The German starred in the Korean Grand Prix, securing an unexpected fourth place finish after holding off race-long pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.
Hulkenberg’s talent has never been in question but other teams, especially McLaren, have expressed a reluctance to pursue him because he is he is one of the taller (and therefore heavier) drivers on the grid. However, Lotus team principal Eric Boullier, whose team wants to sign Hulkenberg as long as it can sort out its long-term finances, has made it clear that the only thing that will sway the decision is the driver’s speed.
“I prefer to have talent and let my engineers work on saving weight in the car,” Boullier said. “It is true that 10kg on paper is roughly three tenths of a second, but the target is to at least be on the weight limit. And then, you don’t have this issue anymore.”
Boullier is still awaiting confirmation from Lotus’ owners Genii Capital that a long talked about partnership with investor Infinity Racing has been complete. Delays in finalizing that deal contributed to Kimi Raikkonen jumping ship to Ferrari for 2014, and Boullier is eager not to let another hot prospect like Hulkenberg slip from his grasp. He reckons, however, that a decision on drivers will need to be made in the next month.
When asked how long he thinks he can hold fire on committing to a driver, Boullier said: “As long as a driver can wait.
“I think obviously they know they have a chance to be here, so there is no real rush. We are still at the beginning of October, we are not in December, so I am sure that we have a couple of weeks. But I wouldn’t be comfortable waiting until after the end of the season.
“This is a matter I would love to close in a few weeks let’s say by Abu Dhabi [at the start of November].”