Raikkonen unmoved by talk of Bottas swop

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at practice yesterday in Hungary. The Finn played down reports that he could lose his place next season to fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.
Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen at practice yesterday in Hungary. The Finn played down reports that he could lose his place next season to fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.PHOTO: REUTERS

BUDAPEST • Kimi Raikkonen believes he still has the speed that Ferrari need, despite reports that the Formula One team are lining up a replacement for 2016 in fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas.

"Everybody has their own view but I wouldn't be here if I didn't think I had the speed," Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion, told reporters on Thursday at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"There is no point to be racing, if I didn't believe I have, and I am sure I have (the speed)," added the 35-year-old. He is out of contract with the Maranello team at the end of the season.

Ferrari have an option on retaining him alongside four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and are weighing up how to proceed.

Vettel, who joined this season from Red Bull, is currently third overall and has scored 59 points more than his team-mate.

Should Raikkonen leave Ferrari, the result could be F1 musical chairs. Reports in Italy last week suggested Bottas was set to switch from Williams while McLaren's Jenson Button has been linked with a move to Williams.

Raikkonen, however, is unfazed by the speculation. "I have made it very clear to the team what I would like to happen, and it is to be here next year," he added.

Bottas, 10 years younger, has been on the podium once this season when he finished third in Canada last month. "Obviously, there are a lot of rumours," he said.

"Of course, as a driver, you want to know as soon as possible but sometimes you need to wait."

A reported £9 million (S$19.1 million) move to Ferrari at the end of the season would pave the way for Button to return to the team who spotted his precocious talent when he was just 19.

More than that, it would give the 2009 world champion an opportunity to swop a struggling McLaren - without a victory since Button won in Brazil almost three years ago - for a Williams squad competing among the leaders.

But Ron Dennis, McLaren's chief executive, holds the veto over whether Button, 35, who has logged 16 seasons in F1, stays or goes.

Button's contract is for this season plus an option for 2016 but the option lies with McLaren, not him.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Raikkonen unmoved by talk of Bottas swop'. Print Edition | Subscribe