Lotus boss Gerard Lopez predicts Kimi Raikkonen will stay at the team beyond 2013
Team owner suggests Red Bull playing 'games' in talking about Kimi
Last Updated: April 16, 2013 3:41pm
Kimi Raikkonen: Has been a success at Lotus
Lotus owner Gerard Lopez has expressed confidence that his team will be able to retain Kimi Raikkonen's services beyond the end of the season even if Red Bull make a move for the former World Champion.
The successful nature of Raikkonen's return to F1 after a two-season absence had already seen the former title winner linked with return moves to both Ferrari and McLaren last year before speculation over a prospective 2014 Red Bull switch surfaced before last week's Chinese GP.
The fresh reports were triggered by comments made by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, who amid doubts over Mark Webber's medium-term future at the team, suggested Raikkonen, out of contract at Lotus at the end of 2013, was "always a candidate" for any vacancy at the Milton Keynes outfit.
Raikkonen himself did little to dampen speculation when quizzed on Mateschitz's comments last Thursday in China and simply noted there were always "other homes in Formula 1, that's normal".
But even if Red Bull do ultimately launch a bid to bring the Finn to the team to form a potential all-star line-up with Sebastian Vettel, Lopez reckons there is currently no reason for Raikkonen and Lotus to part ways.
"Kimi's position is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say - I think they have their hands full right now," Lopez said in part reference to the simmering tension between Vettel and Webber.
"As far as we are concerned, the relationship with Kimi is excellent. We are where we want to be, he is where he wants to be, and I can guarantee you Kimi is not the kind of guy who is going to sign any sort of pre-contract - not with anybody.
"If we keep giving him what he wants then I don't see there is any reason for him to go anywhere, and we are happy so we don't see any reason for us to replace him.
"We are where we are, and I think Kimi will stay."
Chinese GP - Race in 60 seconds
Raikkonen has past ties to Red Bull having driven for the junior Citroen rally team they sponsored during his F1 hiatus and the 20-time GP winner has previously been linked to a move to the energy drinks firm's F1 outift.
Responding to Mateschitz's open admiration for his driver, Lopez suggested Red Bull were playing a "game".
"With regard to Red Bull, it's part of the whole game right now as they've got their own issues," he added.
"In saying something like that, maybe they're trying to see if that can help them, but I don't see how."