By Pete Gill
Lotus remain confident that Kimi Räikkönen will decide to stay with the team for 2014 despite reported interest from Red Bull.
Räikkönen, who currently resides in second place in the Drivers’ Championship just four points behind leader Sebastian Vettel, is out of contract at the end of the year and has been heavily linked with Red Bull in the wake of Technical Director James Allison’s resignation.
A vacancy is widely expected to emerge at Red Bull amid suggestions this will be Mark Webber’s final season in the sport, but Lotus owner Gerard Lopez is positive that the Finn will stay on for a third season with the Enstone outfit – even if strong-arming Kimi into signing a new deal may prove problematic!
“We know we want Kimi to drive for us next year, but then we also know Kimi’s character well, which means you can’t force him to do anything,” Lopez remarked ahead of this weekend’s Monaco GP in which Räikkönen is expected to feature prominently.
“I know he’s happy, and at this stage if he had to choose, I know where he would be.”
According to Lopez, it’s not money but the potential to win races that will ultimately be decisive in persuading Räikkönen, who has also driven for both Ferrari and McLaren as well as Sauber during his F1 career, where to commit his future.
“The main thing about Kimi is he naturally wants a car to win, and he has got that with us,” he added.
“I know we’re giving him what he needs, and as long as we keep on doing that then he’ll stay with us. If he could find a better car somewhere else, and he had an option to go there, then I’m sure he would consider it.
“But I know we’re giving him what he needs, and as long as we keep on doing that then he’ll stay with us.”