Lotus team boss Eric Boullier has admitted that the Enstone squad is still walking a financial tightrope while it waits for an injection of funds, but he remains optimistic that the situation will sort itself out in time to retain Kimi Raikkonen for 2014.
The Finn is a well-publicised target for Red Bull Racing as it looks to replace Mark Webber and suggestions that he has not been paid by his current employer – allied to overt conversations between manager Steve Robertson and senior RBR figures in Hungary – do little to quell speculation that he remains a rival to Daniel Ricciardo when it comes to partnering Sebastien Vettel in 2014.
Having admitted that payment was a little late in arriving, Boullier insisted earlier this month that Raikkonen had now received what he was due, but the Finn appeared unwilling to discuss the situation when questioned by Sky Sports
at the Hungaroring.
Pressed on the subject of whether ongoing money problems would drive him from Lotus next season, Raikkonen shrugged before claiming that 'there is a certain point where a decision will be made', but refused to be drawn on the finer details of the situation.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has already said that the Finn's salary would not be an issue for the Milton Keynes operation – hardly surprising given that his reported base wage, at €3m according to Business Book GP
, is substantially lower than either Vettel (€12m) or Webber (€10m) – although Raikkonen is understood to be on a substantial performance bonus, which is what hit Lotus hardest last season.
"Of course, finances are always a factor, but the difference between first and second - or second and third and fourth - is a significant amount in the constructors' world championship," Horner told the media in Budapest, "The financial element of it, if you don't make the right decision, is going to impact you anyway if you are not scoring constructors' points, so that isn't really an element in our decision making."
Boullier, meanwhile, insisted that he was not concerned by Lotus' apparently parlous state, pointing to a delayed payment from new investor Infinity as the cause.
“The situation is that we are pushing very hard for the team,” he told Sky Sports
ahead of qualifying in Hungary, “We are on the limit of this team financially – maybe sometimes even spending more than we have.
“It is true that now we have some new investors in the pipeline and it is a very nice plan for us, but it takes time as it is a very ambitious plan. There might be some delay on it, but it is coming in definitely.”