Boullier optimistic he can keep Raikkonen at Lotus


Lotus team principal Eric Boullier is confident that he can keep Kimi Raikkonen at Lotus for 2014 despite advances from Red Bull for the Finnish driver.

Following Mark Webber’s decision to retire from Formula One at the end of the season, Red Bull have been seeking a replacement for the Australian driver and have narrowed their shortlist down to Raikkonen and Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Daniel Ricciardo. In pursuit of a second world championship, Raikkonen’s reasons for leaving Lotus would be evident as Red Bull have dominated the sport for the last three-and-a-half years. However, Boullier is confident that he can offer Raikkonen a better working environment.

“I’m very optimistic. There is a lot of discussion in the press, most of it is irrelevant. It is all about making Kimi comfortable enough to stay and happy to stay. Part of it is done,” Boullier said on the James Allen podcast.

“He knows the team and the environment. Now it’s about building up the right package. He will then take his decision.”

The trade-off for Raikkonen in his decision is clear. Red Bull may be able to offer him a more competitive car, but he would have to contend with Sebastian Vettel as a teammate which, as Mark Webber has proven this season, is by no means an easy task. Furthermore, Red Bull tend to undertake a great deal of promotional work with their drivers, something Raikkonen tends to distance himself from.

Therefore, staying at Lotus may be the more sensible option, although he may be less capable of challenging for a second world title.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.