| Source: autosport.com |
Kimi Raikkonen admits he will face a difficult decision if he has to choose between Red Bull and Lotus for the 2014 Formula 1 season.
AUTOSPORT understands that Raikkonen was on Red Bull’s shortlist as a new team-mate for Sebastian Vettel even before Mark Webber announced he will leave Formula 1 at the end of 2013 to join Porsche’s new LMP1 programme.
Raikkonen’s contract with Lotus expires at the end of the year, and he insisted he is yet to decide on his plans, but hinted it will be a tough call.
“Whatever the decision, it will not be easy, but it is never easy,” said Raikkonen at Silverstone. “It is not the first time that there are different options on the table, and then you take the one that you think is right at that moment. So it is hard to say if it is the right or wrong decision and you have to live with it. Only you can make the decision yourself.”
Raikkonen said Webber’s announcement changed nothing for him.
“I still don’t have an answer for what will happen next year, it hasn’t changed in the last two races,” he said. “Obviously people will be talking about the chances more but it doesn’t really change what I will do next year or what my decisions are – even if there is an open place.”
He added: “I have no contract, which is normal in F1. I have nothing to inform people until there is something certain on paper and I will tell immediately because then everyone stops asking the same question. But until I have something done I cannot answer.”
The 2007 world champion returned to F1 with Lotus last year after a two-year hiatus, and he finished the championship in third place. This season, Raikkonen has already won a race and is third in the standings.
The 33-year-old said the atmosphere at Lotus has been exactly what he wanted.
“It has been perfect. Without them I wouldn’t be back in F1,” he said. “For sure they also got some good things out of it, so I have no complaints. Obviously there are certain things that have to improve but I have had a great time with the team so far. That is why whatever the decision will be will be difficult.”
Raikkonen admitted that his freedom at Lotus is an important consideration.
“It is one of the key points,” he said. “Obviously you want to have a good car and certain things have to be right, but there are a lot of small things that have to be right for yourself. I’ve been around the business long enough to know what I want and if those things are not right then the decision might be different.”
“We want a fast driver. We want to fill the best two cars that we can next year,” said Horner when asked what Red Bull was looking for.
“We are in a fortunate position where there are quite a few drivers who would like to drive a Red Bull car, and we have also got two very talented young drivers that we have been developing at Toro Rosso that we have a lot of information on. So we don’t need to rush into a decision.”
Raikkonen said earlier on Thursday that it would be tough for him to decide whether to stay at Lotus or join Red Bull if an offer was made, while Horner admitted that there were some risks attached to signing a superstar like the 2007 world champion.
“There are risks whoever you sign,” he said. “You just try to make the most informed decision you can, and we are in a fortunate position that we have got two very exciting young prospects, and we are attractive to other drivers as well. Our decision will be based on merit and wanting to field the most competitive team that we can.”
Horner also made it clear that Vettel would be consulted on a decision, even if he would not have the final say on who his team-mate will be.
“For sure Sebastian will be kept in the loop in terms of what our choices of driver are, and his opinion has a value as well,” he said. “He is out there racing some of these guys; and sometimes he sees things we don’t.”