Lotus F1 team owner Gerard Lopez believes Kimi Raikkonen will not leave his team to join Red Bull.
It follows Red Bull owners Dietrich Mateschitz’s remarks two weeks ago that Raikkonen was a “candidate” to join the team next year if Mark Webber leaves.
The prospect of joining the reigning three-time champions could be an attractive one to Raikkonen, who won the drivers’ championship with Ferrari in 2007. His current contract with Lotus expires at the end of this year.
Lopez told Autosport the team’s relationship with Raikkonen is “excellent”. He added “We are well where we are and I think Kimi will stay”.
The Lotus boss believes Red Bull’s mentioning of Raikkonen may have been a tactic to deflect attention from the row between Webber and Sebastian Vettel after the Malaysian Grand Prix.
“Kimi’s position is going to be based on a bunch of things and not on what Red Bull say – I think they have their hands full right now.”
Speculation continues to surround Webber’s future at the team. Rumors over the weekend that he had signed a five-year contract with Porsche to race for their new LMP1 team from next year were denied by the German manufacturer.
Webber raced sportscars for Mercedes before making his Formula One debut.
Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.
Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.
“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”
Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”