Lotus are closing on their much-needed injection of funds from Quantum Motorsports and the new investors are eager to sort out their driver situation.
Following last weekend’s revelation that Kimi Raikkonen has gone unpaid by Lotus since the start of the year, Quantum chairman Mansoor Ijaz said he will ensure Raikkonen gets his dues.
“We intend to not only make sure that they [the unpaid wages] are made whole, and then some, we are intending to also compensate our employees and management team,” Ijaz told Reuters. He added he expects Raikkonen to drive for the team in the final two races in the USA and Brazil.
The investors also indicated their preferred choice of driver for next season is Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg. Pastor Maldonado, who brings considerable backing from Venezuelan state petroleum company PDVSA, was also thought to be in the running for a drive.
“I wish the transition had been smoother between Kimi and the next driver, who we believe will be Nico Hulkenberg, but sometimes in life things don’t happen so clearly and as nicely as you would like them to,” Ijaz said to Autosport.
If Hulkenberg does join Lotus it will be the four different team he has started races for in as many seasons, following Williams in 2010, Force India in 2012 and Sauber this year.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.