Lotus fight to fend off Ferrari and hang on to Kimi Raikkonen
- Credit: Andrew Ferraro / Lotus F1
Lotus' battle to keep hold of Kimi Raikkonen has a new rival – and team principal Eric Boullier admits that if the Finn wants to move, there will be little the Norfolk marque can do about it.
Mark Webber's winter departure had set off talks over a possible switch for Raikkonen to Red Bull, although Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo ended up with his compatriot's seat for 2014.
But now it's Raikkonen's old team Ferrari that are said to have come calling as they look to secure their line-up for next season, at the same time considering whether to cut their ties with Brazilian number two Felipa Massa.
Raikkonen, 33 and out of contract at the end of the season, spent three seasons at Maranello from 2007-2009 – with his first year bringing his one world championship.
But the Finn has endured a difficult second half to the season so far. He saw his record points-scoring run ended in Belgium with retirement, before finishing on Sunday outside the points following a first corner smash in Italy – three places behind team-mate Romain Grosjean.
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The question now is whether it will be Raikkonen, Force India's Paul di Resta or Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg that Ferrari chairman Luca Di Montezemolo plumps for if Massa really is cast aside for 2014.
'I am very hopeful within a week I can have answers to the reassurances he is asking for,' said Boullier. 'From that point on we can move very fast when it comes to talking about next year and trying to find a successful solution.
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'It would be nice to close it by Singapore. That is realistic. It should be realistic. But in the end if he wants to go to Ferrari he will go to Ferrari and that's it.
'We have a lot of plans to be honest. After the second Ferrari seat, we are lucky enough to be the next team on the list, so people can afford to wait. We can afford this luxury choice.
'The decision rests more with him because he has an offer from us. We know he has a couple of things we have to supply and deal with to close the discussion.
'But now Kimi is in a position where he is being chased by most of the paddock and he will decide. He knows what he gets with us, but he doesn't know what he will get if he changes teams.'
Hethel-backed Lotus remain fourth in the constructors' championship heading to round 13 of the season at Singapore's Marina Bay circuit.