Caterham is hoping it can sign an established Formula 1 star to lead its 2014 lineup alongside a less experienced teammate.
The team hired race winners Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli for its first campaign under the Team Lotus banner in 2010, but this season had rookie Giedo van der Garde alongside second-year driver Charles Pic.
Kovalainen stayed on as a reserve driver after losing his race seat this season, but has been strongly linked to a return to a frontline Caterham drive next year.
Van der Garde is believed to have a better chance than Pic of being kept on. Mexican Esteban Gutierrez reportedly visited Caterham’s Leafield, UK base on Wednesday.
Caterham team boss Cyril Abiteboul said the aim is to have a balanced driver pairing for 2014.
“A combination of experience and younger blood is something that will make sense,” he said. “As Caterham, we are committed to young people, to young talent. So I think that will stay.
“Experience is nice to have because it gives everyone confidence in terms of feedback and analysis, because next year we will be completely blind at the start. Of course there will be plenty of data, but there will be so much information to digest that it may be useful to have a driver who gives proper orientation just to save you time.
“What I don’t want to have is the excuse that, ‘It is not the car, it is the driver.’ A driver who we know is capable is something we would like to have.”
SURPLUS OF EXPERIENCED DRIVERS
Abiteboul said Kovalainen was not the only experienced driver on Caterham’s radar, as he expects others to find themselves without seats.
“Heikki is one of the options and you see that there is a lot of movement in the paddock,” he said. “I know we are not considered as a priority where we are by some experienced drivers, but maybe there will be more experienced drivers than there are seats available.
“You have [Daniil] Kvyat entering the sport, you have [Kevin] Magnussen entering the sport, you only have one retirement which is [Mark] Webber, so something has to happen.
“We are open to talent, and proven talent, and there are very capable drivers both inside and outside of F1, and lots of discussions going on. What I would like is to have something sorted out very quickly.”
Confirmed 2014 Formula 1 lineup so far:Red BullSebastian Vettel Daniel RicciardoMercedesLewis Hamilton Nico Rosberg FerrariFernando Alonso Kimi RaikkonenLotusRomain Grosjean Pastor MaldonadoMcLarenJenson Button Kevin MagnussenForce India Nico Hulkenberg TBASauberTBA TBAToro RossoJean-Eric Vergne Daniil KvyatWilliamsFelipe Massa Valtteri BottasMarussiaJules Bianchi TBACaterham TBA TBA