The Silly Season is upon us and this year’s version is a real doozy. With Mark Webber retiring at the end of the 2013 season, the hottest seat in Formula One is now open and drivers are clamoring for a shot at the coveted ride. Among the contenders, the name Kimi Raikkonen continually pops up as his contract with Lotus F1 comes to a close at the end of the 2013 season as well.
Many consider Raikkonen the favorite for the seat and would like to see the Finnish driver in the Red Bull RB10 but the energy drink company has a sister team that is supposed to be developing drivers and its current stable of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo are desperately seeking the role as successor to Webber. Team boss Christian Horner said that Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vergne are the top prospects at the moment but some wonder if British driver Paul di Resta shouldn’t be added to that list.
Raikkonen’s departure would be a serious blow to Lotus F1 but team boss Eric Boullier tells F1.com:
“I think he [Raikkonen] likes the team and the people in the team. He is comfortable with them,” Boullier said.
“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. With much less resources than Red Bull we still can develop the car and compete at the same level. This weekend we had conditions that are ‘normal’, not tricky ones, not cold and rainy, and you saw that our car was competitive.
“If you are competitive at mid-season then in all probability we will keep the development curve on the up. So our system is working and if he is comfortable and earns enough for his ‘afterlife’ then why should he go? 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.”
The team seem to believe that playing to Raikkonen’s disengaged style and nonchalant attitude toward sponsor and team demands are worth a heap of cash from a compensatory standpoint. Would Raikkonen make more money at Red Bull? Possibly so but would that be attached to sponsor events and advertising events that turn the Fin’s stomach? Could be.
Boullier says they have a plan B should Kimi decide to leave and to be honest, there are a lot of drivers that would love the chance to sit in a Lotus as well. The key to Lotus F1’s appeal is always going to be centered around cash and the ability to continually develop the car. It’s been a tight road for the team but they’ve managed to do a lot with a little so far.
Do you think Lotus F1’s low-demand appeal will keep Raikkonen planted? Kimi will be 34 years old next season and the oldest man in F1. Will this play a role in his decision as far as a retirement-sized package?