Mercato in delirio, Lotus, RedBull, Ferrari–30/07/2013
Lotus’s hopes of keeping Kimi Raikkonen for F1 2014 set for boost
Lotus’s hopes of convincing Kimi Raikkonen to stay next year are set for a boost later this week, with the team hoping to finalise its investment deal with Infinity Racing.
The Enstone-based outfit announced recently that the group of investors were to buy a 35 per cent stake in the team to help provide a much more secure financial setup.
Such a deal would not only give the team the foundations it needed to shore up its technical progress, but would guarantee the stability that Raikkonen has been looking for.
Although there have been doubts about the Infinity Racing deal coming off after team owner Gerard Lopez revealed recently that things had not progressed as fast as he hoped, AUTOSPORT has learned that matters moved forward significantly last weekend.
Key figures from Infinity Racing held talks with Lotus chiefs, and their presence at the Hungarian GP was viewed as a positive signal that the deal was back on course.
Team principal Eric Boullier hopes that matters will be finalised in the next few days.
"I think by the end of this week everything should be clear," Boullier told AUTOSPORT.
"The deal gives us more than optimism for the future.
"It gives us the means to bring all the resources to go to the next step in terms of stability, size and, let’s say power."
When asked if the financial boost provided by the Infinity Racing was what Raikkonen was looking for to commit to Lotus, Boullier said: "It is not the main thing, but it is one of the things yes.
"We are not the biggest team after the big four, and clearly the strategy we had since the beginning is that you have build in cycles.
"We put everything all in to make the team better, and now we are better we can attract sponsors and investors. That is what we are doing now.
"It obviously takes more time than expected, but we are talking about a big deal.
"And once this deal is cleared, which it should be this week, we know for the next years, many years, the platform will be one step up."
Red Bull: no pressure to pick F1 junior over Raikkonen or Alonso
Red Bull says it is under no pressure to take one of its young drivers as Sebastian Vettel’s team-mate next year, with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso also in contention.
Amid an increased focus on Red Bull’s 2014 line-up, after it emerged in Hungary that Alonso’s management held talks with its team boss Christian Horner, the reigning champion team is still considering its options.
Daniel Ricciardo and Raikkonen are on the shortlist, and the team is considering Alonso a contender even though it is unclear if he is contractually available for next year.
Although Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz created the Toro Rosso team as a means of bringing on young talent, Horner says his outfit will not be pushed to take Ricciardo if it does not feel that is the best decision.
"The situation we are in is that we want to run the strongest team," explained Horner.
"We won the world championship the last three years and we want to make sure we are in the position to fight for the world championship in future years.
"There has never been any pressure that we must take a junior driver.
"Of course the junior drivers are under consideration but there is not a prerequisite that it has to be a junior driver next year.
"Obviously you want to put the strongest drivers in the cars that you possibly can – and Mark [Webber] leaves some big shoes to be filled."
Ricciardo impressed the team with his speed and attitude during a recent informal audition at the Silverstone young driver test.
However, Red Bull is equally aware that drivers of the calibre of Raikkonen and Alonso would bring a guaranteed level of competitiveness.
It was suggested several weeks ago that Red Bull would make a swift decision on the matter, but the state of negotiations with Raikkonen, as well as the tantalising prospect that Alonso could be available, means the team is willing to hold fire.
"We are going to take a bit of time to make sure we make the right decision," said Horner.
"We have some great options and we don’t need to be in a rush."
Ultima follia: “Raikkonen in Ferrari”
È la stagione dei gavettoni e l’ultima “bomba d’acqua” viene dalla Germania: Raikkonen mollerebbe la Lotus ma non per la Red Bull, bensì per la Ferrari. A fare da compagno di squadra a Vettel, per il 2014, sarebbe proprio Fernando Alonso.
Pura follia? Proviamo a capire come nasce la voce. Tutto parte dal mare di speculazioni che sono sorte in Ungheria quando l’aiutante-manager, Luis Garcia Abad, è stato visto e fotografato nel motorhome Red Bull. In realtà Garcia Abad era lì per parlare di Sainz junior (che aveva provato la Red Bull a Silverstone la settimana prima) tanto che c’era anche Carlos Sainz con lui. Se Garcia Abad avesse voluto un colloquio con Horner per una fantomatica trattativa Alonso-Red Bull l’avrebbe sicuramente fatto in modo più discreto. Però l’occasione è stata ghiotta per certa stampa scandalistica straniera per ipotizzare trame segrete.
Le voci su Raikkonen, a questo punto, ci stanno tutte. Nell’ottica di un “gioco” a cui adesso giocano in due. Dopo il rimbrotto di Montezemolo al suo pilota di punta che aveva auspicato come regalo una… Red Bull, la Ferrari ha tutto l’interesse a ricordargli che Fernando non è insostituibile. La squadra viene prima di tutto, ha detto il Presidente.
Raikkonen, intanto, spera che la concretizzazione dell’accordo con la tedesca Infinity porti in Lotus quei soldi che serviranno a pagargli lo stipendio. Il gioco del mercato lo gestisce la Red Bull: ma se sei un pilota pagato zero nel tuo team, di forza contrattuale ne hai davvero poca…