|© AP Photo/Hassan Ammar
Lotus is hopeful that it can retain the services of Kimi Raikkonen beyond the current contract dispelling the possibility of the Finn switching to Red Bull next year, teasing that the partnership of the 2007 world champion with Sebastian Vettel will not work.
Mark Webber’s future in Formula 1, after the team orders fiasco in Malaysia, is uncertain with indications that Red Bull has marked Raikkonen as a potential replacement at Red Bull should the Australian driver leave the team.
"Those are the usual games,” Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told the Bild. “It's not just Red Bull but other top teams have an interest as well.
“I also have interest in (Fernando) Alonso, (Lewis) Hamilton and Vettel,” the Frenchman quipped. “But Vettel only if he listens to my team orders!”
Talks with Raikkonen for a contract extension at Lotus have already begun and the 33-year-old “sounded very happy" with the prospects of staying with the team, particularly as he has a car that can challenge for the title.
"I'm happy when we are more of a nuisance for Vettel," Boullier said.
The team’s financial situation is not an issue either.
"One thing is clear: Kimi is not back in Formula 1 because he needs money,” Boullier told the official F1 website suggesting that the freedom he gets at the Enstone-based outfit could stand in the Finn’s favour.
"I do not know if other teams would also treat him as well as we do.... We can afford Kimi definitely. We have more money than last year," he told the Bild.
Boullier, however, isn’t counting his chickens.
“It is not the question of how I am going to keep him - it is a question of does he want to stay? This is really the question,” he told the F1 website.
“Mr (Red Bull owner Dietrich) Mateschitz is dreaming of getting him on board - and maybe he will get him on board - but in the end it is Kimi who will decide what he wants to do,” he explained.
“(But) why should he want to race against Vettel at Red Bull Racing?” he asked even though the two drivers are friends off the track.