Kimi Raikkonen's victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix has made the Lotus team eager to secure his services beyond the end of the year.
The Finn came from seventh on the grid to win in Melbourne, making a two-stop strategy work in his favour, and team owner Gerard Lopez admits that he is keen to ensure that the 2007 world champion is racing in black-and-gold next season. However, the Genii Capital CEO also admits that timing talks with his team leader might be key to their success.
“We have a very easy relationship with Kimi,” Lopez told Finland's Turun Sanomat
newspaper, “At the moment, everything is perfect so, of course, we will discuss how to proceed. I don't think it's so much about negotiations, but how we decide to continue the adventure together.”
There was a time during last season, however, when Raikkonen's presence in 2013 was in doubt. Despite being in the first year of his return from rallying, the Finn refused to be drawn on whether he would stick around for another campaign, although his performance – including victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – ultimately triggered clauses in his contract, as well as providing a useful financial bonus as his 207 points reportedly earned him millions of dollars over and above his retainer.
Ironically, Lopez admitted towards the end of last season that the 'unexpected' extra payment had caused a problem for the team, and a minor rift with his driver when it was delayed, but insists that all is well between them now.
“These points are good for both sides – team and driver,” he claimed in Malaysia, “We are living in exciting times. We knew before the first race that we are better than last season, but we didn't know exactly what the others had done over the winter. We talk about tyres [after Australia], but Kimi's performance was brilliant.”