Lotus team boss Eric Boullier has attempted to pour cold water on speculation that Kimi Raikkonen
may be poised for a return to Ferrari
after impressing on his return from a two-year sabbatical in the World Rally Championship.
Having flirted with Williams
last winter, Raikkonen was finally tempted back into the top flight by the opening at the former world championship-winning team - which earned its success under the Benetton and Renault
banners - and has steadily made his way up the pecking order on the back of several podium finishes. Although he has yet to win a race in black-and-gold this season, the Finn is now fourth in the overall standings, and just 33 points off Fernando Alonso's tally.
In part because of his run of results, the Spaniard has been rumoured as Raikkonen's next F1 team-mate, despite the fact that he was the reason the Finn was ousted from the Ferrari
line-up at the end of his previous stint in Maranello, a spell that delivered the 2007 world title in a come-from-behind win that denied both Alonso and rookie McLaren
team-mate Lewis Hamilton
at the Interlagos finale.
Raikkonen is not alone in being connected to Felipe Massa's seat at the Scuderia - with Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg
all taking turns to feature on the rumour mill - but Boullier is keen to stress that his prize possession is not going anywhere else next season.
"He has a two-year contract with us, so end of story," the Frenchman told the Daily Mail
's World of F1 blog, "It was a gamble [to offer that length of contract] because you never know after two years, especially if you look at [other] drivers who came back into F1 after having a break. We are lucky that we understood Kimi; why he could have been difficult to work with, and why he could have reacted this way and that way in the past. We clearly set up the environment he needed to nurture again.
"Kimi is a character - he has his own personality and you just need to respect that. He is the kind of guy who can be very focused and very concentrated on his job. He is very professional and he can deliver a lot. You have to make sure there is not too many distractions around him and then he is happy to race - and, if he is happy to race, then he is delivering."
While Raikkonen may be the darling of Enstone, the previous incumbent of that role has apparently ostracised himself.
Robert Kubica appeared destined for great things with Lotus Renault, as it was then called, ahead of the devastating accident on the Rally di Andora event in Italy that almost cost him several limbs. While the Pole is now on the road to recovery, there is no timetable for a possible F1 return, and any comeback will not be with Lotus.
"He stopped contact with us months ago," Boullier, who faces the headache of replacing the suspended Romain Grosjean
for Monza this weekend, revealed, "I cannot make any assumptions about anything because I am not in contact with him anymore."