Aug.25 (GMM/Inautonews.com) Team owner Gerard Lopez is hopeful Kimi Raikkonen will soon sign a new deal to stay at Lotus in 2014.
As a weekend of fever-pitch speculation nears an end, the Finnish driver’s manager Steve Robertson has now clearly denied rumours Raikkonen has inked a Ferrari contract.
“It’s a load of rubbish,” he told the broadcaster MTV3.
“We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary — we do not have an agreement,” Robertson insisted.
MTV3 claims Raikkonen staying at Lotus next year is backed by F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone, who wants as many top drivers as possible spread across all the top teams.
So if Raikkonen stays put, Ecclestone thinks McLaren with Jenson Button, Mercedes with Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari with Fernando Alonso and Red Bull with Sebastian Vettel is an ideal situation for the sport.
Raikkonen hinted on Friday that one pertinent issue is the fact Lotus has often been late to pay wages.
But according to another rumour in Belgium, also crucial to Raikkonen staying next year could be a deal that brings engine supplier Renault – marginalised at Red Bull due to the Infiniti deal – closer to Lotus.
That would tie into speculation Raikkonen has demanded certain ‘guarantees’ about Lotus’ competitiveness in 2014.
“We do not need to give any guarantees,” Lopez insists. “We are very competitive.
“Rather, the question is about next season. We are very close to reaching an agreement with Renault.
“I believe that we have very good chances. We’ve done a good job to give Kimi what he wants.”
And, ultimately, he thinks that when the time is right, sitting down with a new contract and Raikkonen will be a straightforward matter.
“We already talk a lot,” said Lopez. “As long as we are able to give him what he wants and we can react calmly, I believe we can reach an agreement quickly.”