Lotus team boss Eric Boullier has scoffed at rumours linking Kimi Raikkonen to a possible return to Ferrari, claiming that the Finn has no reason to give up his current ride.
Raikkonen returned to F1 in 2012, having spent the past two years in the World Rally Championship, but had been a Ferrari driver for the three seasons prior to that, winning the world title for the Scuderia at the first attempt in 2007. He was the odd man out when Ferrari signed Fernando Alonso, however, having his contract terminated a year early, and parted on less than cordial terms with president Luca di Montezemolo.
While many doubted his ability to return at the same sort of level, especially after two years of rallying in which his motivation - and willingness to travel to the four corners of the globe - appeared to wane, Raikkonen has been one of the surprises of the season, adding a third runners-up spot, and fifth podium, in eleven races at the Hungarian Grand Prix before F1 headed into its summer break.
The Finn currently lies fifth in the standings - having, ironically, dropped a place after being passed by Budapest winner Lewis Hamilton - but is tipped as the most likely driver to become F1's eighth different winner in 2012 as Lotus continues to make inroads into the advantage held by Red Bull, Lotus and Ferrari. In that light, being linked to Ferrari is no surprise - especially when half the grid is being suggested as potential replacement for Felipe Massa - but Boullier insists that Raikkonen should have no reason to look around for 2013.
"It's nice that Ferrari is in the newspapers but, as far as I know, Kimi has no intention of going back there," the Frenchman told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
magazine, "There is no reason why either of [our current drivers] should leave us.
"I believe Kimi is happy here, and I don't recall his [previous] experience with Ferrari being the best one, but there are always a lot of rumours. Being team-mate to [Romain] Grosjean is certainly easier than [partnering] Alonso, so I can't see why Kimi would want to be the second driver at Ferrari when he has the chance to be the number one here."
Earlier this season, there were rumours of a possible falling out between team and driver, particularly as Raikkonen called for more and more changes to the E20's steering system, but those have dissipated in recent weeks as the black-and-gold cars have emerged as consistent threats to the established frontrunners. With further updates to come when the season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps at the end of August, Lotus expects to be even closer to breaking back into the winners' circle, but Boullier accepts that heart may always rule head when it comes to deciding where to drive in future.
"We have a two-year contract with Kimi but, as in every agreement, there are always options," he conceded, suggesting that there were ways by which his star turn could leave.
Team-mate Grosjean is three places and 40 points behind Raikkonen after eleven races, but qualified on the front row in Hungary before coming home behind the Finn to claim the third podium finish of his own return to the top flight. The Frenchman is expected to remain at Lotus in 2013.