When Kimi Raikkonen announced he's leaving the Lotus F1 Team for Ferrari, speculation placed highly rated German Nico Hulkenberg in the seat. But he didn't bring any $$$$$ with him. Enter Pastor Maldonado.
It has actually been no secret that Lotus wanted to hire Hulkenberg, with team principal Eric Boullier even saying that they wanted to hire the Hulk. But Lotus's problem this year has been funding. Kimi Raikkonen didn't get paid for most of the season, and a promised cash injection from a consortium called Quantum Motorsports was to solve all of Lotus's money woes and let them bring on Hulk.
But it hasn't materialized yet, so Lotus couldn't promise Hulkenberg anything and had to go the pay driver route. That's Maldonado, who Lotus has just confirmed they brought on board.
Now, Maldonado isn't the worst of the pay drivers. He did win the 2012 Spanish GP in a Williams. But for all of 2013, he appeared to be absolutely nowhere on the grid and was overshadowed by his new teammate Valteri Bottas. Granted, the Williams car wasn't the best this year, but he still should have been faster.
Maldonado and his treasure chest of Venezuealan oil money will head over to Lotus. The good news is this should make Romain "Big John" Grosjean the new number one driver at Lotus. And hopefully that funding will make a car that the affable Frenchman can take to at least one GP win next season.
As for Hulkenberg, well, his options are quickly closing, with just Sauber, Force India, Caterham, and Marussia left to confirm their driver lineups next year. And he definitely doesn't want to drive for Caterham or Marussia. Unless he likes finishing last.
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