Lotus F1 team boss Eric Boullier has admitted that Kimi Raikkonen's destination for 2014 remains down to the Finn, despite clearly hoping that he stays at Enstone.
Raikkonen has surprised many with his form since returning from a two-year sojourn in the World Rally Championship, winning in Abu Dhabi towards the end of 2012 and following that up with another victory, in Melbourne, to open the current campaign. Despite being passed by Fernando Alonso as Sebastian Vettel's main rival for the 2013 championship at the last race in Canada, the Finn has marked himself out as the favourite to partner Vettel at Red Bull next year, following Mark Webber's decision to quit F1 at the end of the year.
It is not only Raikkonen's obvious talent that sets him above Toro Rosso aspirants Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, either, as the 2007 world champion also has history with Red Bull as a personal sponsor and, perhaps most importantly, gets on with his potential future team-mate.
Despite the obvious lure of joining the reigning constructors' champion, however, Boullier is hopeful of retaining Raikkonen for a third season, but concedes that the decision will not be his.
“It's going to be his decision, obviously,” the Frenchman conceded, “I think Red Bull is chasing Kimi and we want to Kimi, [and] Kimi will decide what he wants to do. He will decide what's best for him.
“He knows what he has with us. He gets what he could get. It's attractive to go to Red Bull as well, but he knows what he has. Now we are just talking with him and seeking some understanding of where we go and what we are building because, in terms of ownership, we are new, just four years existence. I think so far he is happy with what he has.”
Boullier admitted, however, that while the Lotus environment may be to Raikkonen's liking, it could be results that determine where the Finn winds up for 2014.
“I think the environment he has with us obviously suits him [but], as [Red Bull team boss] Christian [Horner] says, he's a driver, a competitor,” he conceded, “He can see every year we keep improving the team performance and, obviously, we expect to keep going in this way and match at least Christian's team's performance as soon as possible.”