Ferrari hopefuls move on after Raikkonen decision
Formula 1 drivers who might have measured themselves up for Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari seat shrugged off any disappointment on Thursday after the team’s decision to retain the Finn for next season.
“I could see it coming, so if there’s no expectation there can’t be disappointment,” said Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg as the sport regrouped at the Belgian Grand Prix after the August break.
“Obviously that seat is taken but I think there are still a few good options for me out there,” added the 28-year-old German.
“I’m pretty confident I can put something good together and that I’ll be here next year in a good car.”
Hulkenberg, a Le Mans 24 Hours winner with Porsche this year, had been seen by some as a candidate to replace the 35-year-old Raikkonen despite being snubbed in the past.
However, Ferrari announced on Wednesday that the taciturn Finn, whose contract was due to run out at the end of the year, would be staying as team mate to four times world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Hulkenberg has also been linked to the U.S.-based Haas F1 team, who are due to debut in 2016, and he said he was considering all options.
“This is the time of the year, you talk to everyone and you assess your options. You put things how you like them and make a decision when the time is right,” he said. “At the moment I am working quietly in the background and preparing everything.”
Finland’s Valtteri Bottas, who was considered a frontrunner to replace Raikkonen, refused to confirm what discussions, if any, there had been. He said talks about a new deal with Williams were continuing.
Ricciardo downplayed rumours that had linked him to the drive, “I was very honest with the answers I gave and there was no direct contact.”
He added, “When I say direct, there wasn’t any indirect contact either. It was through the media, that was the only contact I had.”