Lotus team principal Eric Boullier has admitted that Kimi Raikkonen’s retainer this year was paid late.
Earlier, sources close to the team revealed that Raikkonen had not been paid his retainer since the beginning of this season.
“It was paid late, yes. But it has been paid. We have to if we want to keep him,” confirmed Boullier to the BBC.
Lotus are keen to hold on to The Finn’s services beyond 2013, but Red Bull is openly courting the 2007 Formula 1 World Champion with the possibility of replacing Mark Webber, who departs F1 at the end of the year.
Since his return to the pinnacle of the sport, after a three year hiatus, Raikkonen has witnessed first hand the dominance of Red Bull, and Sebastian Vettel in particular, while Lotus with their relatively modest budget have been little more than a thorn in the side of the world champions.
This season Lotus started well but only now, after a series of below par races, have they returned to challenge the energy drinks outfit. The question is whether they can they sustain the momentum. Insiders believe that they do not have the resources to be a title winning force.
Boullier pointed out, “Two years in a row we have closed the gap with Red Bull. He wants to know if we will keep going like that. We are in discussions about the technical package we’ll have.”
“He is mature enough to decide for himself what is the right thing to do. There are some upsides to going to Red Bull and some downsides as well,” added Boullier.
According to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, there are three drivers on their radar to succeed Webber; Raikkonen and the Toro Rosso duo of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo. (GP247)
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