The Lotus F1 Team is set to hold talks with star driver Kimi Räikkönen in a bid to retain his services for 2014 and beyond, while rival outfit Red Bull Racing openly courts him as Mark Webber’s replacement next year.
The Finn – who returned to the sport with Lotus after a two-year hiatus in rallying – has scored two race wins in a largely successful F1 comeback, and he currently lies third in this year’s Drivers’ Championship standings, adding to his points tally with a podium finish behind (future teammate?) Sebastian Vettel last weekend in Germany.
While Lotus openly admits that it doesn’t have the financial clout of Red Bull Racing, it is hoping that its environment will be a deciding factor for the 2007 World Champion, whose distaste for media and sponsor appearances is widely-known.
“I think he likes the team and the people in the team; he is comfortable with them,” Lotus team principal Eric Boullier told the official Formula 1 website.
“Sometimes you have a good car at the start of the season, but the question is will you be able to keep up that level – and Kimi can see that we can do it.
“Our system is working and if he is comfortable and earns enough for his ‘afterlife’ then why should he go?” Boullier asked.
“In the end it is up to him to tell us what he would like us to do and we will look to do it. He knows that we are flexible and that we listen to our drivers.”
Also in the frame for the second Red Bull Racing seat are Toro Rosso drivers Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.