At least for now, Ferrari is leaving the door slightly ajar for Lewis Hamilton.
After declaring that Hamilton would make a great teammate for Sebastian Vettel next year, Bernie Ecclestone backtracked just ahead of the race in Bahrain.
“No,” the F1 supremo told British television Sky. “He’s happy where he is.”
But Mercedes and Hamilton are yet to agree terms for a new contract beyond 2015, and rumours in Bahrain about a potential move to Ferrari were widespread.
That, however, was before Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday bounced back from a fallow 2014 to challenge Hamilton for victory in Bahrain.
The Finn is making no secret he wants to keep his red cockpit.
“I’m happy for Kimi,” said Ferrari chief Maurizio Arrivabene after the race, “because now I can say officially that he is back and we have two strong drivers.
“But that does not mean that I am going to sign a contract with Kimi tomorrow, which I made clear when I talked about the matter with him.
“If you ask me now if he deserves the agreement, I say yes. But I want to keep him alert. Kimi is at his best when he is a bit worried. This is his kind of psychological approach,” Arrivabene is quoted by Finland’s Turun Sanomat.
“At the moment, the paper is still white,” the charismatic Italian continued. “It seems that when I picked up the pen, Kimi went onto the podium!”
Arrivabene’s position also sends the loud-and-clear message to Hamilton that the door to Maranello is not slammed shut.
“Lewis is a world champion,” he is quoted by Germany’s Sky, “and every world champion dreams of driving one day for Ferrari.
“But right now we have two world champions and we don’t need another.”
Also happy with a timely driver resurgence on Sunday was Mercedes, whose Nico Rosberg fought aggressively and only lost second place due to a brake problem.
“It was a new Rosberg,” declared team chairman Niki Lauda. (GMM)