A tug of war for the services of Kimi Raikkonen, between Red Bull and Lotus, looks to be brewing in the aftermath of Mark Webber’s announcement that he is departing Formula 1 to be part of Porsche’s sportscar programme.
Red Bull have made no secret of their interest in Raikkonen, while Lotus are aware that in the Finn they have a very valuable asset not only on track but also off it, as Raikkonen is one of the most popular drivers of the current era.
Speaking at the FIA press conference at Silverstone, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner gave his opinion on why the world champion team would be an attractive prospect for Raikkonen.
“At the end of the day I guess it’s going to be [about] the equipment at their disposal. They’re going to want to drive – any driver, any competitive driver – is going to want to be in the most competitive environment that he can be in. I guess that’s the same for Kimi as it would be for any driver,” explained Horner.
Raikkonen has made no secret of the fact that he is very content with his environment at Lotus, and is by no means smitten by the Red Bull interest. Lotus have gone out of their way to accommodate Raikkonen and nurture an atmosphere where he is not stifled by the PR commitments that he so loathes.
Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said, “I think the environment he has with us obviously suits him. He told us this many times. As Christian says, he’s a driver, a competitor, so he can see every year we keep improving the team performance and obviously we expect to keep going in this way and match at least Christian’s team’s performance as soon as possible. So, being part of the environment you can like and build around yourself is one of the nicest challenges for a driver.”
Horner is nevertheless being cautious about the Raikkonen option, and declared, “Let’s just be clear here, we’re not just looking at Kimi Räikkönen, we have Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne who are true contenders for that seat. We just need to take a bit of time to look at all of the options available to us.”
As for the time frame to make an announcement Horner revealed, “I would have thought [that we will make it] later in the summer. We’re not going to let it drag on forever but we can take a bit of time to make sure we make the most informed decision that we can.” (GP247)
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