Lotus confident Kimi will stay

Wednesday 08-May-2013 11:12

Lotus are confident Kimi Raikkonen will stick with team if they continue to provide him with a car that is competitive.

Raikkonen has impressed since returning to Formula One, finishing third in the Drivers' Championship last year and finding himself second in the standings after four races this year following one win and two second places.

Lotus fans will no doubt be a bit uneasy though as the Finn's contract expires at the end of the year and other teams will probably be interested in acquiring his services.

However, the Enstone squad's team owner Gerard Lopez feels Raikkonen will stay with Lotus if they give him the right machinery to challenge at the front of the grid.

"Kimi is a fantastic guy," Lopez told Autosport in an exclusive interview. "The thing about Kimi is that he is very thankful we brought him back to where he is.

"And we are very thankful that he has brought the team to where it is now. So it fits nicely.

"To be honest with you, I am convinced, and I don't say this lightly, that if Kimi gets what he wants from us in terms of performance and so on, we will see Kimi moving forward with us.

"He knows that; and he says that. He is not going to get what he gets with us here anywhere else. It doesn't matter if the team has a blue car, a red car or a silver car.

"But this is also racing. So we have to make sure that he has a good competitive car. He has got one. As long as we can give that he will be with us."

Quite a few eyebrows were raised in the paddock when Lotus decided to lure Raikkonen back to F1 after he spent a couple of seasons in the World Rally Championship.

However, it proved to be a good choice and Lopez said they were never thought they were taking a risk by signing Raikkonen.

"We must have had 11 choices [for 2012] - and I can tell you from the outside it was by far not the most obvious one. But to us, it was," he said.

"Honestly there is a lot of pride in this team that we made that choice because we were 100 per cent convinced. It is one of those things where you look at people and say, 'I told you so'.

"We were absolutely convinced that he had what he takes. I dealt with him, talked to him and knew what I was going to get myself in to.

"I knew I wasn't getting someone who was going to shoot a commercial every week or whatever. That is not what we want. But a dedicated racer? That was a given."

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