Kimi Raikkonen has been dropping some hints that indicate he is leaning towards staying with Lotus F1 Team for the 2014 season, though the Finn keeps insisting that he hasn’t reached a decision on his future yet.
During a press conference Thursday prior to the Hungarian Grand Prix, Raikkonen said that he would go with the team that felt right to him and that his decision might, “feel stupid to somebody else”, but that, “there has to be an overall package that feels right to me”.
To me this screams that he will stay with Lotus and not move to Red Bull Racing where he would fill the race seat left vacant by Mark Webber when the Aussie retires from Formula 1 at the end of the current season. Both Lotus and Kimi have said that the Iceman likes the way the team operates. Team Principal Eric Boullier and owner Gerard Lopez have both said that Kimi seems comfortable with Lotus and likes the atmosphere around the team. That comfort level is what makes me think that Kimi will make the “stupid” move and stay with Lotus.
Most F1 fans and commentators would probably sigh and shake their heads if Kimi picked Lotus over Red Bull given that RBR has dominated the sport over the past three-plus years. A few however, yours truly included, think that Red Bull would be a poor fit since Raikkonen would spend most of his time battling with his team mate Sebastian Vettel for wins and that Kimi would never accept a “second driver” type of role.
Raikkonen is not the kind of guy that wants to be surrounded by a hostile environment where he is having showdowns with his team mate. Vettel and Raikkonen are buddies away from the track but friendship doesn’t extend onto the circuit, especially when you’re talking about two drivers as intent on winning as Seb and Kimi.
Lopez has previously said that one key element of the team Raikkonen settles on will be that the fit must be right for not only Kimi the driver, but Kimi the person. Lotus fits Kimi the person better than Red Bull, at least if we are judging based on the way they have each handled their drivers this season.
Both teams will be using Renault engines next season when F1 switches to 1.6L turbo-charged V6s so who is supplying te power plant won’t be a factor, and as we have seen this season when Lotus is on their game they can challenge RBR. It comes down to comfort, and the Iceman is looking pretty comfy at Lotus.