Rumours that Kimi Raikkonen has signed a contract to drive for Ferrari next season have been played down by the Italian team.
With Raikkonen’s contract up for renewal at the end of the season, the Finn has been linked with a move to the Red Bull seat being vacated by Mark Webber.
Raikkonen, 33, has finished each of the 30 races he has contested since his return to the sport with Lotus in 2012, finishing in the points in all but one of them. He is second in the drivers’ championship, 38 points behind leader Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bull and one point ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Lotus team boss Eric Boullier has said he is “optimistic” of keeping his lead driver for a third season but the rumours about a move to Ferrari began when Alonso was linked with a move to Red Bull next season during the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend.
And according to Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat, Raikkonen has agreed a deal to move back to the team, where he won his one and only world championship in 2007.
However a Ferrari spokesperson told the BBC there is “no foundation” to the rumours the Finn is set to return.
“Right now, we’re really not giving any thought to the driver-market situation,” said a Ferrari spokesman. “That is our priority,” he said. “Drivers are not a problem for us even if we were to change Felipe (Massa).”
It would be a remarkable turnaround if Raikkonen made a return to Ferrari after he was paid off when they ended his contract a year early at the end of 2009 to make way for Alonso.
The rumours will also put pressure on Felipe Massa once again. The Brazilian, who has raced for the team since 2006, was in danger of losing his drive last year after a poor run of form.
However Massa, who outscored Raikkonen during their time together as team-mates in 2008 and 2009 before his life-threatening crash in Hungary in 2009, saved his career with a strong end to last season and continued that form into this season before tailing off.
All this comes around the time of the 25th anniversary of the team’s legendary founder Enzo Ferrari’s death. It would be interesting to know what he would have thought of the Raikkonen rumours.
And what would he have thought of Alonso’s management talking to Red Bull? Would he have seen it as a mark of strength or disloyalty?
Speaking about the team’s founder, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, who was hired by Enzo in 1973, said: “It’s impossible to sum up in a few words what Enzo Ferrari has meant to me.
“Next to my desk in Maranello, I have a photo of the Founder: at times when I have to take an important decision, I instinctively find myself looking at it and asking myself what he would have done. The example set by Enzo Ferrari is always kept in mind.
“Twenty five years on, he would be happy to see what Ferrari has become today, a unique industrial and racing institution, which represents Italian excellence and continues to enchant the millions and millions of fans of the marque, all over the world.”