Lotus says that proving it can deliver a strong car next year, rather than giving reassurances on money, is the key to it securing Kimi Raikkonen for the 2014 Formula 1 season.
Although much focus has been on Lotus’s financial issues, with the team still not having completed a deal with new investor Infinity Racing, team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed that Raikkonen cares more about its performance.
Ahead of a major overhaul of F1’s technical regulations for 2014, where engines will become more important, Raikkonen in particular is eager for Lotus to get closer ties with Renault. Lotus is pushing hard for Renault to ramp up its partnership with the team, which could include increased marketing and technical collaborations.
“I said two months ago that as long as he gets what he wants from us which is technical guarantees from us next year in terms of how close we are with Renault then there is a high chance he will stay,” said Lopez.
Raikkonen has openly admitted that there have been issues in the past with late payment of performance-related bonuses, but Lopez says that matter is not a deal-breaker.
“That’s not the issue,” he said. “I think he has some outstanding matters on points [related payments], and that is it. His main thing right now is to be sure that next year we are a top team, because there is a major change in terms of technical specifications. He does not want us to be just a customer team.
“We are discussing how to be closer with Renault, in whatever shape it is. That is why the [engine] contract hasn’t been signed yet.”