Maurizio Arrivabene says Kimi Raikkonen approached him to enquire about staying with Ferrari in 2016.
In the Bahrain paddock, rumours are swirling about the possibility of a Ferrari ‘dream team’ for next year starring Sebastian Vettel alongside Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton’s contract negotiations with Mercedes appear terminally stalled, with a source at the German giant admitting: “If Ferrari tries to sign a driver with an unlimited amount of money, it would no doubt succeed.”
Boss Toto Wolff is trying to stay calm.
“We have seen teams without any drivers in November,” he told Britain’s Sky, “and we are in April, so we are feeling ok.”
Clearly, Ferrari is leaving the door slightly ajar for now, with Arrivabene revealing in Bahrain he has told Raikkonen to his face that he is not ready to sign him up.
“He (Raikkonen) asked me about the contract and how to proceed,” the Ferrari team boss told Finland’s MTV3. “I said ‘You just have to be good on the track’.
“‘And if you do it, the contract is yours’. It is therefore very simple,” the Italian explained.
“I think Kimi is someone who appreciates this, and I appreciate that he did not send in his manager to talk to me about it. We know each other and we met eye-to-eye.”
1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve thinks Raikkonen has a good chance of retaining his seat, even though he has not yet proven a match for Vettel in 2015.
“If he keeps driving like this, why wouldn’t Ferrari keep him?” the Canadian told Turun Sanomat newspaper.
“The whole team seems to be in good spirits with a lot of energy. So who else would they take?
“If Lewis Hamilton is available, he would probably be Ferrari’s first choice, but I don’t think Ferrari cares so much if Kimi wins races or not.
“There is not really the need for two winning drivers. They need one driver to win and another to be a strong support,” added Villeneuve.
So for now, all eyes are on the unconfirmed seats at both Ferrari and Mercedes.
“Only fools are confident,” said Wolff, “and it’s only a contract once it is signed.” (GMM)