I wonder what sort of deal Venezuela made with Williams, if they can afford some sort of fee to cancel the remaining 2 years on the contract (£60m), and still have enough left to sign for a new team!
3 ways of looking at it – a bluff as all the Venezuelan money will not flow any longer, or continuing on with less money to offer (even if it’s half it’s still more than Chilton brings, £10m), else, Maldonado is not involved in the fraud program and maybe now has even more to bargain with (to pay off Williams and secure a higher seat on the grid), as the other drivers like Viso are pulled from the program.
So, it all depends on the Lotus board and whether Quantum will commit. Surely anyone can see Hulk-Grosjean gives them a chance to be a top 5 team, despite having less money than the other 4. A good investment from Quantum, and a good 2014 car, could really see them take it to the big boys and finish in the top 3. Otherwise, it’ll be maybe similar but less so with Maldonado in the driving seat (inconsistency) and the same amount of cash (from PDVSA, which clashes with Total for Grosjean).
For Hulk, Lotus or even Force India could both be good bets, especially if the Mercedes engine is as good as we have been hearing (speculation it could be too powerful for the tyres). Renault and Ferrari have experience with turbos, and it’d be hard to see Renault getting it wrong. Ferrari love engines too so could surely only get it wrong if they didn’t spend enough time or money, or used something dodgy (like the old wind-tunnel or bad computer simulation for example).
Maldonado picking Calado is a handy situation for him. Calado has less experience in the F1 car (2014 would be a good FP1 year for him) and will not be as much a threat as Di Resta, who could beat Maldonado with his race consistency, even if Maldonado is faster in qualifying. If FI were smart here they could do a double deal and get in Magnussen, saving them an £8m debt to McLaren, but arguably the two guys hot on pace right now are Magnussen and Kvyat, so maybe Maldonado would not be pleased with that! He’s inexperienced in F1, but 2014 is ideal for him, as everyone else is in the 2014 cars. But both new drivers would probably be on the pace by mid-end of season anyway. This double deal investment could really see Force India vault the midfield and be comfortably 6th in the table, more-so than they are now.
I do hope Sauber would take Sutil-Gutierrez, with Sirotkin on FP1s in that situation, and surely they would do so, unless Mexican backing switches to McLaren to secure Perez a bit better. But, it’s been said that Sirotkin’s backers haven’t paid $4.5m yet, and that the Sauber contract is flexible to allow a year of testing. If not then they are really up doo-doo alley and may have to rely on Petrov’s here tomorrow, gone today backing ($30m from Gazprom would definitely bump Sirotkin, how much is his deal reported to bring?).
For Perez, if he is let go by McLaren late for Magnussen, where can he go for 2014? Most places will be taken, where could he get back in? Sauber now have Gutierrez, so unless 2 goes into 1… and Maldonado would seemingly block an attempt for him to join him at Force India.. McLaren would be wise to feed in Magnussen there IMO and take him to McLaren in 2015 with a year’s experience.