' 35 per cent team investor Quantum wants Nico Hulkenberg at the wheel in 2014, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport. However, the Enstone based team is running out of time as it waits for the deal to be completed, and has set a mid-November deadline, the German trade magazine said.
If the deadline passes, Lotus will surely resort to signing Pastor Maldonado
, whose PDVSA backing is estimated at up to a staggering EUR 41 million per year.
An insider is quoted as saying: "When will Pastor realise that everyone is only after his money, not him?"
Until Lotus gets its hands either on Venezuela's or Quantum's money, team owner Gerard Lopez is reportedly dipping into his own pocket.
"The budget will not be touched (reduced)," he is quoted as saying. "We want to finish second in the championship."
Lotus is currently fourth, but the difference between finishing behind Ferrari
or ahead of them is reportedly EUR 15 million in Concorde Agreement cash.
That might help pay for German Hulkenberg.
Team boss Eric Boullier was asked if the sport has taken a worryingly bad turn if competitive teams cannot afford to sign someone as talented as the German.
"I don't want to comment," he said.
Team owner Lopez, however, said: "With Grosjean and Hulkenberg, we would have the best driver pairing for the future."
Quadruple world champion Alain Prost
has joined those who think it is ridiculous that F1's financial situation could lock the promising Hulkenberg out of the grid.
"You would like to see him have five offers on the table and he can choose the best one for him," said the Frenchman in Abu Dhabi.
"30 years ago," Prost told the German newspaper Welt, "a guy like Hulkenberg would have been snapped up by a top team."