Formula 1

Raikkonen could drive for Sauber in Austin - Salo

Raikkonen and Hulkenberg could swap seats for final two races (©GettyImages)
Raikkonen and Hulkenberg could swap seats for final two races (©GettyImages).

Whether or not Kimi Raikkonen will make the trip to Austin, Texas for next weekend’s United States Grand Prix remains a major talking point in F1.

Last weekend the Finn, who is clearly unhappy at Lotus, arrived in Abu Dhabi less than 18 hours before the start of Friday's practice and claimed he would not race in America and Brazil unless he was paid the reportedly $15m he is owed in wages.

However by the end of the weekend Raikkonen, who endured a miserable time on the track, claimed his dispute with Lotus was over and he would in be Stateside for the US Grand Prix.

One former Ferrari driver is not so sure however.

“Let’s see if Kimi is in Austin,” fellow Finn Mika Salo told the broadcaster MTV3, “And in what car.

“It’s probably the most anticipated thing about the whole American grand prix weekend. There have been rumours Kimi will drive a Sauber instead of a Lotus,” said Salo.

While that claim Kimi could switch to Sauber is new, it does suggest wheels may be turning behind the scenes with Nico Hulkenberg.

He is the preferred replacement for Raikkonen by both Lotus and their possible investors Quantum Racing, though confirmation of a deal is still yet to be forthcoming.

Sauber also use Ferrari engines who of course will be Raikkonen’s employers for the V6 era.

“For now it’s just a rumour,” Salo admitted. “Kimi loves to drive, but the atmosphere at Lotus is no longer good for him. Sauber is also short of money and has not paid for Nico Hulkenberg,” he added.

Whatever Raikkonen ends up driving, if anything at all, Salo is sure his countryman would still give 100%.

“If Kimi is in Austin, he will definitely be on it,” he said.

“With our Finnish mentality, no matter what is going on it doesn’t affect our performance. We sit in the car and drive it as hard as we can.”

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