Monday, 11 November 2013
Why it will be Valsecchi
Hulkenberg is an obvious choice - get him into the car early, so he understands the team before starting for real (if the Quantum money ever turns up) next year.
There are a number of problems with that, not least that Sauber wouldn't want to release Nico as they are still trying to accumulate points to ensure as good a position the Constructors' Championship as possible.
But the main reason that Davide Valsecchi will get the drive is this: he has a contract.
I've seen people suggesting that the reserve driver won't get paid much, a figure of 50k Euros has been suggested. What nobody seems to be insinuating, is that he won't be being paid at all.
The reserve driver postion at an F1 team is a coveted one. You get to learn so much about how a team works, all of the engineering work that goes on, the processes and occasionally, you might even get to drive the car in a Friday morning session.
Valsecchi, or more likely his management, will have paid handsomely for the privilege of having Davide be the test and reserve driver at Lotus. Let's say they paid in the region of 3-5 Million Euros.
His contract will specify how many Young Driver tests he will get to drive the car in, and how many Free Practice sessions. It will also state that he is the reserve driver, and that if Kimi or Romain are unable to race, then Davide will slot in to fill the gap. This happens so rarely that teams are happy to take the risk, and take the money. Interesting that the last time it happened it was also Lotus, when Romain received a one-race ban.
So if Lotus don't put Davide in the car while Kimi is off sick, they will almost certainly be in breach of contract with DV's management. Who will expect their money back - and currently, Lotus aren't in a position to do anything of the sort.
So it would be a massive surprise if anybody else steps into the car. Lotus might prefer somebody else, or they may be happy that DV is their best option. BUt that's probably irrelevant.
As always in Formula 1, the first thing you need to look at is the money.