Lotus insists the team’s 35 per cent sale to Quantum remains on track, even though the investment group missed its latest deadline set by chief Mansoor Ijaz.

Romain_Grosjean-U.S._GP-P03Ijaz had said in Austin that the deal would be complete by the end of this week, but team boss Eric Boullier now says he is hoping to settle the issue “by early next week”. “Well, there is still some discussion ongoing, especially now between bankers,” the Frenchman said in Brazil. “The process is not fully completed but I think part of it has been done, which is obviously a good sign,” added Boullier.

He dismissed reports – easily searchable on Google – that Ijaz has been at the centre of some questionable investments in recent years. “Fortunately we don’t have to base our judgement only on Google,” said Boullier. “To answer the question, yes, we have very serious proof of funds and good compliance of what is Quantum Motorsport.”

However, Germany’s Sport Bild reports that Lotus’ team CEO Patrick Louis has sent a letter to employees, apologising that November’s salaries will be paid late. “We will do everything possible to solve this problem as soon as possible,” Sport Bild quoted Louis as saying in the note.

And another sign the Quantum backing may never arrive is the fact that Lotus’ first choice to replace Kimi Raikkonen in 2014, Nico Hulkenberg, is no longer counting the Enstone based team among his realistic options. “It is clear that the (seats at the) top teams are all occupied,” the German told Die Welt newspaper. “For me, the options are limited to teams that have not been in contention for the championship in recent years. “For sure I will not go for the title in 2014,” Hulkenberg added.

Asked to name his options, the 26-year-old answered: “Force India and Sauber.” What happened to Lotus? “It depends on the new investor (Quantum),” said Hulkenberg. “I have to admit I’m a bit sceptical.” Hulkenberg thinks Lotus will instead sign Pastor Maldonado, who for the past few years has brought millions to Williams in the form of PDVSA backing. “F1 is an expensive sport,” he said, “and if a team needs financial help, then someone like Maldonado is worth a lot.”

Info: GMM, Image: Lotus