Cash will not be a deciding factor as Lotus look for long-term Raikkonen replacement
Eric Boullier also hints at new deal for Romain Grosjean
By William Esler
Last Updated: 02/10/13 2:17pm
Felipe Massa and Nico Hulkenberg have both been heavily linked with the seat, with the Brazilian thought to be favourite due to the sponsorship he can bring to the team.
However, the Team Principal says he is looking for a long-term replacement for Raikkonen and that cash is not a pre-requisite, which could play into the hands of Hulkenberg.
"When it comes to drivers we are not simply looking for a short-term replacement for Kimi - we are looking at where we are going to be in the next five years," Boullier said.
"We can afford to be patient, to ask the candidates to wait as we formulate our strategy for the coming years.
"I hope we do not have to take into account commercial considerations when making decisions on drivers because we have worked hard to build our financial strength without having to rely on sponsorship from a driver.
"We want the strongest line-up possible to continue the progress made in recent seasons - that is the priority."
The Frenchman added that he has been impressed by Romain Grosjean recently and hinted that he will be offered the chance to lead the team in 2014.
"With Kimi leaving at the end of the year, Romain knows he has the possibility to build the team up more around himself. If you look at the last five races, he has done a great job," Boullier said.
"Since Germany everybody has noticed he has clearly 'switched on' and you can see the highs in every race.
"Whether we've been fighting for the podium or struggling a little bit, Romain has clearly been matching Kimi's performances, which is no small achievement when you consider the world championship-winning calibre of his team-mate.
"The Romain of the last two months is the one we all believed he would become, and I hope he keeps improving.
"If he continues in this way, it means he is 'on it' and delivering the results we all know he is capable of, which is very positive for his prospects in 2014."