Force India says Lotus has the key to 2014 driver market

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Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley has said that the team is waiting on Lotus’ decision regarding its driver line up before making any announcements for 2014.

Lotus is currently thought to be waiting on a deal with Quantum Motorsports, a group of investors headed up by Mansoor Ijaz who has appeared at the last few races as a guest of the team. However, with the deal continually stalling, it seems that Lotus may have to approach Pastor Maldonado and offer him a drive relying he has funding from PDVSA in 2014. Should the Quantum deal go ahead though, Lotus will want to sign Nico Hulkenberg, although the German driver is reported to have signed for Force India in Brazil.

Speaking to ESPNF1, Fernley made clear that no decisions would be made until Lotus had made the first move.

“The stumbling block at the moment is who’s going with Lotus and until that’s resolved it’s very difficult to know what’s available,” he explained. “At the end of the season, we’ve got two very good drivers and there’s got to be a compelling reason to change one or both. We don’t really know which drivers are available yet.”

Current drivers Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil enjoyed a good start to the season before suffering from a dramatic change in fortunes after the British Grand Prix, coinciding with the changes made to the Pirelli tires. di Resta is thought to be at risk of losing his seat, and he has said that he is open to a move to IndyCar should a place in Formula One prove impossible to find.

Sergio Perez is another driver that the team is thought to be considering for 2014, and Martin Whitmarsh inferred in Brazil that a deal had already been struck to keep the Mexican driver in Formula One following his sacking by McLaren.

The F1 season may be over, but at this rate, silly season is set to rumble on well into the new year.

Ricciardo set to see Dale Jr.’s final Texas ride in two weeks (VIDEO)

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We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.

And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.

After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.

In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.

Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.

“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.

“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.

“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”

Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.

“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”

Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.