Raikkonen has been openly discussed as a potential replacement for Mark Webber at Red Bull and even Team Principal Christian Horner admitted that he is one of the three in the running for the drive.
Red Bull currently lead the championship and have the fastest car, but Lotus fought back at the last round in Germany where Raikkonen narrowly missed out on taking Sebastian Vettel for the race win. The race proved that Lotus can fight for wins despite their smaller budget and the departure of their Technical Director James Allison earlier in the year.
Lotus owner Gerard Lopez feels that Lotus has elements that are more attractive than Red Bull for the 2007 world champion. He is quoted by AUTOSPORT saying: “We know him well, we know he likes it here. It is up to us to prove that he can get the package that he wants as a driver, and I think he will stay.”
Insiders think that Raikkonen is keen to stay at Lotus as long as he can be assured that the team has the funding and technical structure to maintain their front running form into 2014. Whilst Red Bull currently has a faster car, there are more favourable aspects at the Enstone based squad on a personal level that Raikkonen knows no other team can provide him with.
Lopez explained: There is a certain culture about this team that does things right,” Lopez said. “And it is the same culture that Kimi likes.
“If we had huge time constraints on him, I don’t think he would enjoy it. He hasn’t enjoyed other teams before. He knows he has been treated well here, as we would treat every other driver. I think that is a big difference, if he is here or somewhere else.
“This team has a culture that is quite human. Somebody told me that for Kimi the human being, this is the best team. And for the racer, he has to decide.”
Lopez also dismissed suggestions that Lotus can not keep up in the development race, saying: “We developed the car to the point last year that the delta between us and Red Bull was the same in the second race as it was in the last two races, so I don’t think that is much of an issue.
“People also keep talking about budgets. Although we have a lower budget than some other teams we do quite well with that budget.”
Lotus currently sit fourth in the constructors standings with Raikkonen sitting third in the drivers championship.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.