Nico Hulkenberg's F1 future appears a little more secure after the US Grand Prix, as it was revealed that he has an option to stay with Sauber should his bid for the Lotus vacancy be rejected.

On first viewing, the German does not appear to be short of opportunities, with a section of the paddock also convinced that he will return to Force India in 2014. However, a lack of financial backing and his less-than-ideal build cast a doubt over his viability even while he was picking Sauber's season off the floor with a string of top six results.

When Kimi Raikkonen confirmed that he was leaving Lotus for Ferrari, Hulkenberg's name was among the first touted as a replacement, but the appearance of the well-heeled Pastor Maldonado on the driver market, allied to Lotus' widely-reported financial troubles, appeared to put the Venezuelan in pole position for what could be a plum drive next year.

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The same issue has also arisen with Sergio Perez's release from McLaren, but Hulkenberg is clinging to the hope that Lotus' 35 per cent buy-in talks with Quantum Motorsport finally materialise into a deal that will lavish the Enstone squad with the funds to sign drivers on merit rather than money.

Those negotiations again appeared to take a positive spin with Quantum head man Mansoor Ijaz joining team principal Eric Boullier in the Circuit of the Americas paddock and telling Sky Sports that he expected a deal to be done in the next week. Ijaz has already made it clear that he favours Hulkenberg over Maldonado for next season, but has yet to deliver on his promise of funds.

"We're going to make that part of it happen, in terms of making sure [Lotus] gets enough money," he said when asked about the possibility of confirming Hulkenberg alongside Romain Grosjean for 2014, "One of the things I did over the past three weeks, while things kept on getting slowed down, was to put other opportunities that we had in place to go ahead and fund.

"So, in fact, we may bring a lot more money to the table than we initially anticipated, just to make sure that the back-stop behind the team [is there] to keep it going for a very long time.

"That's part one, just to buy into the team. The second part is the sponsorships that we're going to bring. No sponsor's going to come on board from our side until they know that the share purchase part of the occasion is complete. But, when that's complete, then those sponsorships will come pretty quickly - and they're major sponsorships we're talking about, they're not small sponsorships.

"We are still very much going to join them, [and] we're very close to the end now. I'm pretty sure that we'll get it done this week. We will not quit until we finish it this week - and we will finish it this week."

Should either the deal not come together, or Lotus still opt for Maldonado - as the Venezuelan appears to believe will be the case - Hulkenberg could still wind up at either Force India or Sauber, with the Hinwil team appearing to open its arms to a return where, previously, it seemed reliant on pay drivers. Although team boss Monisha Kaltenborn admitted in Austin that talent would be considered first, the Swiss team is still thought to need at least one well-backed driver and, with Esteban Gutierrez already on board and a Russian rescue package thought closely tied to Sergey Sirotkin making the step up from WSbR, there appeared to be no room at the inn for Hulkenberg- and even moreso with Perez also possibly sniffing a potential return to the team that gave him his break.

Kaltenborn's alleged offer was put to Hulkenberg in the television pen immediately after the USGP, although the German remained non-committal as he keeps his options open.

"That's good news, isn't it," he commented, with a wry smile, "I want to be in F1 first and then, after that, we'll have to see. I want to get a car that's able to do what we're doing now basically, to be well in the points, although I wouldn't mind to be on the podium every now and then.

"Certainly, Sauber is one of the possible options, but it's not entirely my decision. I'm also dependent on a few answers from different teams, and I wouldn't like to say anything in terms of a timeframe because I don't know whether I can keep that or be within that."

Hulkenberg further strengthened his claim to a leading seat next season by coming home in sixth place at the Circuit of the America's. Although he started fourth on the grid, lining up on the 'dirty' side of the grid proved costly. A late-race push to catch Fernando Alonso came up just short, but the German was nevertheless pleased with his afternoon's work.

"A very solid result yet again," he remarked, "If I'm not mistaken, since Monza that would have been the eighth points finish in a row if it wasn't for the brake disc failure in India and the drive through in Abu Dhabi. That's a pretty impressive statistic.

"It was an interesting race. I didn't have to fight that much, only at the end with Fernando, which was good fun. Unfortunately, in the crucial part of the race, about ten to 15 laps before the end, we didn't quite have his pace, so he was able to overtake me. During the last lap, going into turn one, I passed him back, but just missed the apex and he was able to get me back at the exit. We finished just a couple of seconds behind our competitors, so I think it's been a good weekend."

Hulkenberg's eight points from Austin take him to within one of Force India's Paul di Resta in the driver' standings with just the Interlagos finale remaining.

"Scoring points was our aim today after qualifying well," head of track engineering Tom McCullough commented, "Nico had a strong pace throughout the race and was fighting right until the last lap with Fernando Alonso. Sixth is a very good result for us and to be so close to fourth at the end of the race gives us more confidence that Brazil should be another good weekend for our team."