Lotus in “privileged position” to pick new driver

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Following Kimi Raikkonen’s decision to leave Lotus at the end of the season in favor of a return to Ferrari, his current team principal Eric Boullier has opted to look at the positives as he searches for a new driver to replace the Finn.

Raikkonen’s exit opens up a seat at Lotus for 2014, with Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa and Davide Valsecchi thought to be three drivers in the running. Further to that, Romain Grosjean’s three-race rolling contract means that his place at Enstone is by no means secure. For Boullier, although Raikkonen’s exit is a loss, it does give the team options.

“We are currently in discussion with a few people and will make a decision shortly,” Boullier told Lotus’ official website. “We are in the privileged position of being the most desirable team on the grid with a seat available, so we are therefore in no rush to announce anyone without establishing what will be the best for our team and the future.”

Boullier admitted that losing Raikkonen was a disappointment, but he is pleased to have played a part in the Finn’s comeback after he walked away from Formula One in 2009.

“Of course this is a disappointment to all of us, and we’re sure you will agree that Kimi has been nothing but brilliant since he joined us,” Boullier said. “In the same breath, Enstone has once again proven its pedigree; providing him with two great cars and making his return to Formula One a success.”

You can read the complete interview with Eric Boullier on Lotus’ website.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.