Renault still wants to hold talks with Robert Kubica to see if there is a possibility for him at the team next year, despite signing up Kimi Raikkonen for 2012.
With Kubica having been unable to guarantee the squad he will be ready for the start of winter testing, Lotus Renault – which will race under the Lotus name next year – moved quickly to secure the F1 return of Raikkonen with a two-year deal.
Although the team has a contract in place with Vitaly Petrov for next season, team principal Eric Boullier admitted on Tuesday that the squad was still open-minded about its plans for the second seat, and could not rule out Kubica taking that slot later in the campaign if he is fit.
"All the scenarios are possible," Boullier said. "I need to sit down with Robert and his manager to understand what is the timescale for him to come back. We have confirmed Kimi and we will confirm the second seat when we are ready to confirm it."
When asked if that meant the team did actually need to make a decision on the second seat, with Petrov having a deal in place, Boullier said: "Yes. It will be soon."
Petrov's manager Oksana Kosachenko told the RIA Novosti that Lotus Renault has given the Russian 10 days to decide on his future.
"After today's decision was announced, I was given a very short amount of time, literally 10 days. We have until Dec. 10 to decide if Vitaly stays or leaves," Kosachenko said.
The main contenders for the second seat are believed to be Petrov, Romain Grosjean and Bruno Senna, with Rubens Barrichello and Heikki Kovalainen as outsider candidates. Boullier has made it clear that the team will only move to help Kubica get back up to racing speed, with the provision of old cars and simulator facilities, if the Polish driver offers a long-term commitment to the team.
Speculation in recent weeks has suggested that Kubica could actually return in a testing role with Ferrari, although the Scuderia has played down such a suggestion. When asked about the possibility of Kubica using Ferrari's facilities, or testing one of its cars, team principal Stefano Domenicali said: "No. Not really. If you remember we are speaking about drivers for Ferrari since January of last year, so I think that maybe next week we come with the Valentino Rossi position! So, no."