SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen made clear on Friday that his Lotus Formula One team had issues to resolve before he could have serious discussions about staying on next season.
Speaking to reporters at the Belgian Grand Prix after crying off ‘sick’ on Thursday in the face of a wave of speculation about his future, Raikkonen said he had yet to sign a contract with anyone for 2014.
“It’s the same as four weeks ago. Nothing has changed, apart from more rumors and more teams,” he said, facing a scrum of reporters in the team motorhome with his eyes shielded by sunglasses.
The 2007 world champion has been linked to Red Bull and his former teams Ferrari and McLaren by a media searching for any sign as to where the taciturn Finn might end up, while Lotus are fighting to retain his services.
Asked to comment on rumors that he had not been paid fully by the championship-challenging team, the 33-year-old replied: ”For sure it’s not as it should be, but hopefully those things get sorted quickly.
“They know there are certain issues we have and until those are solved there is no point talking about next year,” he added when pressed on whether it was a concern that they were struggling to meet his wages.
“They know exactly what they have to do first, and then we are open to talk. It’s not really up to me.”
Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson said earlier in the week that the Finn would not be driving for Red Bull in 2014 but team principal Christian Horner said on Thursday that nothing should be ruled out.
The driver, who said he was fine and showed no signs of sickness, sounded no clearer about what was going on with the champions, who must replace departing Australian Mark Webber at the end of the year.
“I had no answer from them. We will see what happens. You have to ask them what they will do. I don’t know any better than you guys,” he said. “We never heard anything for a while, which is not the ideal situation, but that’s how it is.”
He offered no clarification about Ferrari, the team with which he won his championship, either.
“Every year we have the same stories, the same things, and the longer the season there are more rumors until everybody has a contract,” he said.
“There must be much more interesting things to write about and tell people than the same things over and over again.”
Lotus are an attractive option to Raikkonen, who would be sure of top billing and number one status, because they have also given him room to be himself and reduced his media commitments.
The Finn is renowned as much for his dislike of conventional sponsorship commitments as his well-documented party lifestyle and is happiest letting his driving do the talking on grand prix weekends.
”I’ve always said I have a very good team here, but things have to be right in all areas,“ he said. ”As long as I get a place where all the things are as I want them to be, and where everybody is happy, then that is fine for me.
“Obviously, you want as good a car as you can, but the rules will change a lot (in 2014) and it’s difficult to say which team will be the best.”
Raikkonen has also walked away from Formula One before, when he left Ferrari and competed in the world rally championship for two years in 2010-11.
Asked whether he had been think about options outside Formula One, he replied: ”Not really.
“For sure I want to do more rallies when I can. I‘m a big fan of the sport,” he added. “If I don’t get a contract then I will probably do some races some time.”
Editing by John Mehaffey