Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has cooled speculation that the Italian manufacturer could make an announcement regarding Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari return as early as this week.
Rumours are circulating that the Flying Finn will replace Brazilian Felipe Massa in the team despite his impressive fourth place at Monza on the weekend, although questions have also arisen over the future of Fernando Alonso after he continues to show his frustration in different ways as he challenges Sebastian Vettel for the driver’s championship.
Ferrari president Luca Di Montezemolo was present for their home race in front of the faithful Tifosi, who booed three-time world champion Vettel when he appeared on the podium and ferociously celebrated Alonso’s second place finish.
But Di Montezemolo added fuel to the flames that Raikkonen could be set for a return by refusing to rule out a move for the current Lotus driver. Raikkonen won the won championship in 2007 in his first season with the team after replacing seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, beating then- McLaren duo Alonso and Lewis Hamilton by a single point.
"We will take a decision in the next [few] days, and we haven't made any kind of decision yet," Di Montezemolo told Reuters.
"We haven't signed any contract with anybody. We will talk with Massa and then we will decide.
"Now is the time to make a decision.
"What happened in the past with Kimi? We won a World Championship," Di continued.
"First of all, Kimi is a good driver. For us it was a big satisfaction to win with him the first championship with the new team without Michael [Schumacher], without Ross [Brawn].
"I think there are also the possibilities of some other drivers but there is also the possibility as last year that we decide to continue with Felipe. We haven't taken any kind of decision yet at all."
The 33-year-old finished third in 2008 as Hamilton went on to claim the title ahead of Massa, before leaving Ferrari in 2009 despite having a year to run on his contract. Ferrari were keen to bring in Alonso, who had spent two years with Renault – the team he won his two world championships with in 2005 and 2006 before his McLaren move – and the paid off Raikkonen’s remaining contract as he departed F1 for the world of rallying.
However, Domenicali has spoken to calm the rumours, although the announcement could still be made before the next Grand Prix in Singapore next weekend.
"The fact we have not decided yet means we are putting on the table all the elements,” said Domenicali.
"And the fact we are not taking a decision from an emotional point of view is because we want to give consideration to everything.
"This is why we will announce and say something on that as soon as we have finalised our discussions because it is not an easy decision for us.
"This is something we want to take at an appropriate time in order to make sure we take the best decision for our team."
Lotus F1 team principal Eric Boullier has also confirmed his wish to keep hold of Raikkonen, although admitted that if Ferrari came calling he would be unable to stop him from leaving.
"I am very hopeful within a week I can have answers to the reassurances he is asking for," said Boullier.
"From that point on we can move very fast when it comes to talking about next year and trying to find a successful solution.
"It would be nice to close it by Singapore. That is realistic. It should be realistic.
"But in the end if he wants to go to Ferrari he will go to Ferrari, and that's it."
Raikkonen has two victories to his name since his F1 return last year, taking the penultimate race of the season in Abu Dhabi and the first race of this year in Australia to add to his 18 race wins before his original departure, and becoming the first driver to win a race under the Lotus name since Ayrton Senna at the 1987 Detroit Grand Prix in the process.