Lotus says it has several ‘tasty’ options to replace Romain Grosjean at the team next year, as it continues to push to complete a Renault deal.
Grosjean has elected to join the new Haas team for 2016, after a planned Renault takeover could not be completed in time for him to commit to stay at Enstone.
It has left Lotus seeking a partner for Pastor Maldonado, with contenders believed to include Kevin Magnussen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Stoffel Vandoorne and current reserve Jolyon Palmer.
Frenchman Esteban Ocon has been strongly linked with a reserve driver role.
Lotus deputy team principal Federico Gastaldi suggested a decision would be taken jointly with Renault – with nothing settled yet.
“We know that we can now publicly say bonne chance to Romain who is headed to pastures new next year,” said Gastaldi about the driver situation. “He’s been a real asset to us over the years so we’ll certainly miss him.
“We know we have Pastor confirmed for one seat and we know that there are quite a few tasty drivers available out there and we’re doing everything to ensure that we’ve got a desirable race seat, which needs to be filled.
“What happens next is that there’ll be a number of discussions in a number of places then at some point we’ll have an announcement to make.
"I can at this stage publically confirm that it won’t be me driving,” he quipped.
"Engaged to be married"
Lotus and Renault have signed a Letter of Intent to push on with the takeover, but a go-ahead still rests on a number of factors coming together.
Gastaldi was optimistic, however, that issues – which are believed to include extra commercial rights income – can be overcome.
“It looks like we’re engaged to be married again, which is interesting as we’ve had a few relationships together before,” he said.
“It’s positive for the sport and it’s positive for Enstone that a company with the history and prestige of Renault is looking to strengthen its role in Formula 1.
“It’s true we’ve both experienced a few knocks over the years but we’ve also had some exceptional highs and that makes us all collectively exceptionally motivated to harness our resilience and show everyone what we can do.”