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2013-09-02 07:10

KIMI THE KEY: Seems the annual shuffle of drivers is on hold until Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen jumps (or not). This was him in at Bahrain 2013. Image: AFP

Formula 1's silly season has with every passing year become more like European football's transfer window. It's the F1 shuffle.

LONDON, England - Formula 1's silly season has with every passing year become more like European football's transfer window.

Just as the top clubs and top players jostle for the best deals for their futures so do F1's top teams and drivers. The only difference: football has a deadline.

F1, however, has Monza - the traditional race meeting at which most of the main "transfers" are completed or confirmed.


Down the years, the Italian GP has been the scene of many major announcements - among them Ayrton Senna's move from Lotus to McLaren as Alain Prost's partner, Nigel Mansell's angry confirmation that he would leave Williams on learning that Prost was on his way, and Michael Schumacher's infamous overnight switch to Benetton from Jordan after only one race.

That's just a brief example picked from the early 1990's; 2013 is no different.

• The drivers' market, as it so often does, seems to be in suspended animation as it waits for Kimi Raikkonen to make a decision - choosing, it seems, between staying with Lotus or, well, not.

• Red Bull (despite contradictions all round), McLaren and Ferrari each awaits his choice with great interest and so do Daniel Ricciardo, Jenson Button and Felipe Massa.

• Lotus believes it has the package to make him want to stay.

Red Bull, however, has been reluctant to confirm Australian Ricciardo as Mark Webber's successor, which suggests the team has not abandoned all hope of luring the Finn. Indeed, Lotus has made clear that it has no problem offering a financial deal to secure Raikkonen's services continue into 2014, but has to work harder to convince him that it can build a winning car.


Team owner Gerard Lopez has revealed that Raikkonen cares more about his car's performance than the money on offer and has pushed Lotus to work more closely with Renault as F1 enters a new era with an overhaul of the technical regulations.

Lopez said: "Things are moving... I said two months ago that as long as he gets what he wants from us - which is technical guarantees from us in 2014 in terms of how close we are with Renault - then there is a high chance he will stay."

In an interview with Autosport.com, Lopez admitted there were some issues with late payment of performance-related bonuses but added that matter was not a deal-breaker.

"His main thing right now is to be sure we are a top team for 2014 because there is a major change in technical specifications. He does not want us to be just a customer team," Lopez added. "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."


That news, alongside assurances from McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh that despite being a fan of Raikkonen he intends to keep an unchanged line-up, suggests the Finn will stay at Lotus unless the team fails to meet his demands.

And that is why, like Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho who grew tired of waiting for Wayne Rooney, Red Bull's Christian Horner will not wait for ever to see what the Finn chooses to do.

As in past years, Monza next weekend is almost certain to see several major announcements - and plenty of controversy.
Read more on:    renault  |  red bull  |  ferrari  |  lotus  |  monza  |  italy

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