He might have endured an embarrassing exit from the fray as early as Thursday's short shakedown run on last weekend's Rallye de España, but Citroën has conceded that former F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is inching ever-closer to a renewal of his contract with the French manufacturer's Junior Team in 2011.
Raikkonen's first year in the World Rally Championship (WRC) has been characterised by highs-and-lows – arguably more of the latter than the former, with a best finish of fifth in Turkey back in April potentially outweighed by four further events on which the Finn has crashed out of contention.
Palpably happier in his new WRC environment after the crushing austerity and disciplinarianism of F1, all talk of a return to the grand prix grid for 'The Iceman' next season has now been quashed – and Renault rather publicly embarrassed [see separate story – click here
] – but there were still rumours of late that with Red Bull seemingly no longer as keen to help fund the Citroën Junior Team project, Raikkonen could find an alternative home at the similarly energy drinks-backed Monster World Rally Team alongside Ken Block.
Citroën competition boss Olivier Quesnel, however, hints that the recently-turned 31-year-old is more-than-likely to be staying exactly where he is in 2011, with discussions between the French marque, Raikkonen and Red Bull now well-advanced.
“I know the negotiations are progressing well for Kimi to stay in the Citroën Junior Team,” Quesnel told Italian magazine Autosprint
, when asked about the 18-time grand prix-winner's future. “I don't know when something will be officially announced.”