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.
Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed their new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with US-based Ford Motors in a press event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Team Principle Christian Horner. They are the only Formula 1 team to launch in the United States, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.
“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”
In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.
With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.
In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.
“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.
“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”
Now Verstappen’s thoughts will inevitably turn to establishing a dynasty – and America will again play a pivotal role.
“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said. “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”
Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his principle rival for the championship.
“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.
“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”
Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.