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.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.