Kimi Raikkonen has played down speculation that he may be planning to use his spell at Lotus as a springboard to better things, insisting that he is focused solely on getting the Enstone team to the front of the F1 field.
Speaking at the unveiling of the new Lotus E21, Raikkonen said he was looking forward to the second year of his deal at Enstone and, having finished third in the individual standings in 2012, hoped that continuity would play a part in pushing both himself and the team up the order this season.
“It helps,” he said of being part of an unchanged line-up for 2013, “It's not a massive thing which will suddenly mean you start winning all the races, but it's nice to be at the same team as you understand how they work, and they understand how you work. We quickly developed a pretty good way of working together last year and there's no reason to think that won't continue this season.”
While that 'way of working together' still involved some typically terse comments from the cockpit – notably while Raikkonen was en route
to victory in Abu Dhabi, the Finn is looking forward to the coming season, which gets underway with the first of three group tests, in Jerez, on Tuesday (5 February).
“I enjoyed my comeback to F1 last year and there's no reason to say I shouldn't enjoy the 2013 season too,” the 2007 world champion, who returned from a two-year exile in the WRC, commented, “I know there will be big changes to the cars and regulations for 2014, so who's to say that won't be exciting?”
While Raikkonen's win at Yas Marina was the only time Lotus reached the top step in 2012, between the Finn and Romain Grosjean, ten pieces of silverware made their way back to Enstone, and Raikkonen has no qualms about lining up alongside the same team-mate in 2013.
“We had a pretty good relationship last year and it's clear he's fast and motivated,” was the former Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren driver's take on Grosjean, “On track, we were pretty close to each other at times, but we didn't have any issues. It's good when you have a team-mate who's fast and works hard. I think we should be fine in 2013.”
And, should the year go to plan and Raikkonen's form attract the interest elsewhere?
“I'm not really thinking beyond this season at the moment, but I'm sure there will be talk before the end of the year,” he shrugged, knowing full well that retirement could be as much an option as moving on.