Mercato, trattative continue–20/08/2013
Lotus won’t break the bank to keep Kimi Raikkonen for F1 2014
Lotus says there is no point in busting the bank to keep Kimi Raikkonen next year, as talks intensify to finalise the Finn’s Formula 1 future.
Raikkonen is considering his options for 2014, but hopes of a switch to Red Bull appear to be over after his manager Steve Robertson revealed on Monday that talks had collapsed.
While Lotus is eager to keep Raikkonen on board, and the former champion has expressed privately that he wants to stay there, the situation depends on the Enstone-based outfit proving that it has the financial and technical package in place to maintain its strong form.
The money situation is a key factor, with Raikkonen having had issues in the past with wage payments being delayed.
That background means there is no guarantee Raikkonen will commit to a fresh deal with Lotus, with the team admitting that there will be no point in it over-stretching its budget just to keep him.
Speaking before it emerged that the Red Bull discussions were over, team principal Eric Boullier said he would only be happy to keep Raikkonen if the circumstance made sense for both driver and team.
"We haven’t finished the story with Kimi, so we want to keep going," he told AUTOSPORT.
"Kimi is a good figure for the team. Obviously he is a very good driver, and everyone knows how good he is.
"He’s also helping us in terms of awareness to get us into the right place of where we want to be. I think he is a natural fit for the team and the team naturally fits around him.
"I would like to keep him, to be honest, but I want to keep him with the right conditions.
"If we can’t afford him because of finances, then I don’t want to have him because he will be a pain in the arse – and it will difficult to build something on this.
"But if we can have him, then I would like to keep him."
Lotus is still finalising a deal with investment partner Infinity Racing that it hopes will provide it with exactly the kind of financial stability that Raikkonen is seeking.
Analysis: could Kimi Raikkonen rejoin Ferrari for F1 2014?
With Kimi Raikkonen no longer in the Red Bull running, his best alternative outside Lotus if a deal cannot be agreed appears to be Ferrari.
The Italian team, which Raikkonen drove for from 2007-09, winning the title in his first season, could have a seat available if it chooses to replace Felipe Massa in 2014.
Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has rubbished talk that an agreement is already in place for him to return to Maranello, but admitted to AUTOSPORT that Ferrari was on Raikkonen’s radar as a consideration.
"It’s an option," said Robertson. "My job is to talk to all the teams that have available seats, and that is what I will be doing."
Ferrari, however, is not yet devoting any effort to worrying about its 2014 driver line-up, because its priority is to rediscover the on-track form that Fernando Alonso will need if he is to win the championship.
Sources suggest that Ferrari’s senior management will only be ready to consider its driver options after the Italian Grand Prix – by which time it should have a clearer picture of its competitiveness and Massa’s form.
That means Raikkonen may have to wait for a few more weeks before he can make progress on his Formula 1 future.
Although Raikkonen’s departure from Ferrari to make way for Alonso was not on the best of terms, it is understood there is no underlying reason that would make it impossible for him to return – and that Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo would accept it if he was the best driver available.
However, there is also no shortage of other available options – including Nico Hulkenberg and Paul di Resta.
RECAP: RAIKKONEN AT FERRARI
Michael Schumacher was edged towards the F1 exit to allow Raikkonen to join Ferrari in 2007, as the Finn left McLaren after a promising but ultimately frustrating five seasons of showing great pace but missing out on titles.
Raikkonen rectified that in his first season at Ferrari, winning on his debut in red in Melbourne.
He then put a mid-year lull behind him to surge through and beat McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Alonso to the crown amid the backdrop of the McLaren/Ferrari spygate scandal.
But Raikkonen ended up playing second fiddle to team-mate Felipe Massa in 2008 and could only win once in ’09 as a furious Ferrari was caught off-guard by rivals’ interpretation of diffuser rules. He left for the World Rally Championship at the end of the year.
RAIKKONEN’S FERRARI STATS
2007 2008 2009 Wins 6 2 1 Poles 3 2 0 Champ pos 1st 3rd 6th Points 110 75 48