Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez has rejected the notion that star driver Kimi Raikkonen could be set to walk away from the team at the end of the season, believing that as long as he is winning, he will remain in Enstone.
Raikkonen’s future has come under close scrutiny of late following the multi-21 fiasco which appears to have freed up a seat at Red Bull for 2014. The drinks giant backed the Finn during his time in WRC, and many believe that this relationship could be rekindled.
It is believed that James Allison played a big part in bringing Raikkonen to Enstone, but after his departure was announced yesterday, many expect Raikkonen to follow his lead at the end of the season. However, Lopez is confident that the 2007 world champion will remain with Lotus.
“The thing about Kimi is that he is very thankful we brought him back to where he is,” Lopez explained to Autosport. “And we are very thankful that he has brought the team to where it is now. So it fits nicely.”
Lopez is positive that whilst Lotus are competitive, Raikkonen would stay with the team which has led him to two wins during his comeback, and the Finn currently lies second in the drivers’ championship.
“To be honest with you, I am convinced, and I don’t say this lightly, that if Kimi gets what he wants from us in terms of performance and so on, we will see Kimi moving forward with us.
“He knows that; and he says that. He is not going to get what he gets with us here anywhere else. It doesn’t matter if the team has a blue car, a red car or a silver car.
Indeed, Lotus’ team ethic and mantra appears to appeal to Raikkonen, with good use of social media making the team a firm favourite with the fans, and his tenure with the team has certainly been a happy one, but Lopez reinforced the importance of suiting Raikkonen on-track also.
“But this is also racing. So we have to make sure that he has a good competitive car. He has got one. As long as we can give that he will be with us.”
Raikkonen has certainly made himself at home with Lotus, but the lure of Adrian Newey’s expertise and an almost-guaranteed shot at the championship with Red Bull could be too great to resist. Also, would Sebastian Vettel would be willing to work with a driver who would not play second fiddle? If not, Daniel Ricciardo may be the better option for the defending champions.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.