Lotus team principal Eric Boullier on Thursday revealed he has opened talks with several drivers as he searches for a successor to Kimi Raikkonen.
Raikkonen has confirmed he will return to Ferrari on a two-year contract from next season and Boullier is keen to move quickly to line up the Finn’s replacement.
Boullier believes Lotus are an attractive option for ambitious drivers, with Felipe Massa – ousted from Ferrari in favour of Raikkonen – Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg and Paul Di Resta at Force India among the reported contenders.
“We are currently in discussion with a few people and will make a decision shortly,” Boullier said.
“We are in the privileged position of being the most desirable team on the grid with a seat available.
“So we are therefore in no rush to announce anyone without establishing what will be the best for our team and the future.”
Following a two-year sabbatical in rallying after leaving Ferrari at the end of 2009, Raikkonen returned to Formula One with Lotus at the start of last season.
The 2007 world champion helped the team back onto the top step of the podium, initially in Abu Dhabi last season and Australia at the start of this year’s campaign.
Boullier paid tribute to the Finn but made it clear he was confident Lotus can still thrive without him.
“Two years ago, when we decided to sign him, quite a few people thought we were crazy,” he said.
“We’ve been working with an amazing racer, who scored points for the team 27 times in a row and won two races.
“But we’ve had (Michael) Schumacher, (Fernando) Alonso, Raikkonen. New champions will join the list here soon I’m sure.”