The Lotus F1 team says that it is hopeful of extending Kimi Raikkonen's stay at Enstone through 2014 and that it is close to securing the former world champion's signature on a contract extension.

"We already talk a lot," said team owner Gerard Lopez this weekend. "As long as we are able to give him what he wants and we can react calmly, I believe we can reach an agreement quickly."

While Raikkonen has appeared happy at Lotus since his return at the start of 2012 from a two-year sabbatical from the F1 paddock, questions about the team's financial status have been raised with reports suggesting that they have been late to pay the Finn for his services.

Related Articles

But while Raikkonen himself alluded to this issue when talking with the media on Friday at Spa, he is thought to be more focussed on whether Lotus will be competitive in 2014 and provide him with a platform for a serious bid at winning a second F1 world championship, and seeking 'guarantees' from the Lotus management that they have the necessary resources to build on their current form.

"We do not need to give any guarantees," said Lopez, dismissing such talk. "We are very competitive."

The most important factor in that consideration is the team's engine deal, with Raikkonen hopeful that Lotus can exploit a possible estrangement between Renault and their tentpole team Red Bull Racing now that Red Bull have upped their technical and business partnership with Infiniti.

"We are very close to reaching an agreement with Renault," said Lopez. "I believe that we have very good chances. We've done a good job to give Kimi what he wants."

Raikkonen had thought to be favourite to succeed Mark Webber in the #2 Red Bull car, but recent reports have suggested that Daniel Ricciardo is now all-but confirmed in the seat.

With few vacancies available at other top teams capable of boosting Raikkonen to a second world title, the driver has even been linked with Ferrari with whom he he raced until the end of 2009, when he agree to his contract being bought out to allow the team to sign Fernando Alonso as their new lead driver.

But the rumours that Raikkonen has signed for his former team have been dismissed this weekend by his manager Steve Robertson.

"It's a load of rubbish," Robertson told the Finnish broadcaster MTV3. "We are in the same place as we were a month ago in Hungary, we do not have an agreement."

With the 2014 Mercedes seats already locked up by Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, the only other berth that might appeal to Raikkonen is at McLaren, which has so far conspicuously declined to pick up the options of its existing driver line-up Jenson Button and Sergio Perez.

While both drivers are expected to re-sign eventually, and the team's current position more a case of contract negotiation strategies playing out, the idea of Raikkonen heading to Woking would certainly be worth considering by Martin Whitmarsh.

But the smart money is that Raikkonen will indeed re-sign with Lotus for 2014 once the team's deal with Renault is in assured. The question is whether that combination of driver, team and supplier will be able to capitalise on the new technical regulations coming in for next season and make Raikkonen a contender for the 2014 title.