McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes Kimi Raikkonen wants to leave Lotus but thinks the Finn will ultimately end up staying with the Enstone-based team next season.
Lotus boss Eric Boullier has said he is optimistic of keeping Raikkonen, amid speculation the team is struggling with its finances, but the Finn has been linked with a move to Ferrari and Red Bull.
Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, who won the opening race of the season in Australia, is fourth in the drivers’ standings, 63 points adrift of Red Bull’s leader Sebastian Vettel, having lost ground in recent races.
“Obviously Kimi is determined to go somewhere else and I sense that he will not succeed in that goal, so let’s see how he gets on there,” Whitmarsh told www.f1.com.
McLaren have struggled this season and lie fifth in the constructors’ championship, 247 points behind leaders Red Bull. The team have yet to score a podium, with their best finish fifth in China courtesy of Jenson Button.
Whitmarsh has said it is his intention to retain 2009 world champion Button and Sergio Perez next year, although he stopped short of confirming it.
“I think our guys deserve another go at it,” said Whitmarsh. “They have done a good enough job and they are a good couple of drivers. They deserve a better McLaren next year and that’s what we’re hoping to give them.”
But he has not entirely ruled out a move for Raikkonen, who drove for McLaren between 2002 and 2006, adding that the team had talks with the Finn in 2012.
“Kimi has always been great and I am a big fan of him,” said Whitmarsh. “There is a lot of speculation out there at the moment, so let’s see what happens.
“I probably shouldn’t be, but I’m completely open – last year we had talks with him, but for various reasons it didn’t happen. This year we’ve had no talks – yet. We are not talking to Kimi at the moment, so let’s see what happens in the drivers’ market.”